Serving all Arabic Speaking Communities

Arabic Welfare Inc - History

The history of Lebanese migration to Australia dates back to as early as the 1880s and over the decades saw a small community grow slowly to establish its own churches, support groups and community leaders. However, the Civil War in Lebanon (1976 – 1990) marked a significant change to the Lebanese community in Australia with the arrival of tens of thousands of traumatised refugees fleeing a war zone and seeking safety in a new country.

Melbourne’s established Lebanese community was not equipped to respond to the needs of the new arrivals, nor were other welfare services. The then Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs recognised the gaps in settlement services which needed to be addressed urgently and after detailed research and discussions with community leaders, supported the establishment of the "Australian Lebanese Welfare Committee".

Arabic Welfare Inc was originally established as the Australian Lebanese Welfare Inc in 1984 from the foundations laid by the Australian Lebanese Welfare Committee.  It grew from a voluntary organisation which formed to meet the urgent welfare needs of Lebanese immigrants who had arrived in Melbourne during the time of the Civil War in Lebanon.

The capacity of the organisation to respond to the complex needs of our clients and community groups saw an expansion of services, increased funding from local, state and federal governments, increasing staff numbers, collaboration and partnerships with other organisations and indeed, a diversification of our services.

The organisation was renamed as “Arabic Welfare Inc” to more accurately reflect its clientele, the diverse communities of Arabic speaking background. Whilst currently, Arabic Welfare’s largest client group of new arrivals continues to be Arabic speakers from Iraq, we support clients from Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Kuwait, Somalia, Algeria, Yemen, Iran.

Arabic Welfare continues to provide casework to many thousands of clients and conducts a variety of community development programs, always in response to the needs of Arabic speaking communities and to the particular characteristics of each wave of migrants and refugees arriving to Australia.