Refugees and Partners Logo    ZARA’S HOUSE

Zara’s House is the inspiration and the determination of Sister Diana Santleben O.P.

Sister Di was excited by the fun she had enjoyed with the Afghan women at Penola House some  time ago.

She saw the need for a safe place where refugee women could have fun with Australian women – sharing time and talent while learning English and settling into their new home and culture.

Sister Diana also saw that it was a good opportunity for the women refugees to make friends, to share their skills and cultures through art and craft activities together.

She found a suitable place in Jesmond naming it Zara’s House after an Afghan refugee woman who came to Australia with her family in 2014.

Zahra and daughters

Zahra and her three daughters at the front door of Zara’s House

Zahara with Cathie, Marilyn, Jo , Ellen and Sister Diana

Zahra with Cathie, Marilyn, Jo, Ellen and Sister Diana looking pleased that we are doing  “something beautiful for refugees ………..and for God” at Zara’s House 

The refugee women met with creative women from Hunter TAFE,  the University of Newcastle and Hunter New England Health.

They prepared a wonderful program to involve many women  finding materials to teach weaving, sewing and handcraft to other women.

They are now working to form a micro-business enterprise and market their creations  online.

The members of Refugees and Partners thank all involved in childcare –  Jesmond Neighbourhood Centre, the donors of toys and learning aids and the commitment of willing volunteers.


Zara’s House Refugee Women’s Enterprises opened for business on 14 June 2016.

Refugees and Partners work with other members of the local refugee service providers to plan and manage programs suited to the needs of the young refugee women.

Team leaders monitor progress and report regularly to R&P executive.

They prepare reports for funding bodies and do research for further activity and prepare  new submissions for grants. 

Zara’s House was officially opened by the Mayor of Newcastle, Nuatali Nelmes

3.30 pm 21 June 2016


Waiting for the  Mayor

to cut the ribbon and officially open Zara’s House.