After fleeing her personal homeland, this girl devoted her life to supporting Australia's refugees


Amid the socio-political unrest of 1977 Chile, 26-year-old Lucy Marin and her household fled to Australia.

With their two-year-old child Cesar in tow, Lucy and her husband Oscar wished to flee the issues of Common Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship that noticed members of her household persecuted and incarcerated.

Pinochet led a brutal regime which repressed the nation by way of corruption and numerous human rights abuses reminiscent of extrajudicial executions, torture and compelled disappearances. It could final for 17 years. 

Having a lived expertise of trauma meant the now 68-year-old Lucy has been in a position to dedicate herself to a lifetime of understanding others, counselling newly-arrived folks from refugee backgrounds with related emotional bruises.

Lucy Marin

Lucy left her life in Chile behind to return to Australia.


“I believe it has quite a bit to do with how a lot you may give and supply and help your communities when you know the way troublesome it’s to reach in a foreign country with the dearth of every little thing,” she informed SBS Information from her dwelling in Edensor Park, western Sydney. 

“The lack of know-how of the brand new tradition, the dearth of help, with most of your emotions breaking down due to trauma, grief, isolation, language boundaries – every little thing.”

Lucy studied social work and welfare group companies at TAFE, trauma counselling on the NSW Institute of Psychiatry, and between 1985 and 1989, labored in settlement companies with the Division of Immigration. 

For the previous 31 years, she has labored as a counsellor and undertaking officer on the NSW Service for the Remedy and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS).

Lucy Marin

Lucy has labored at STARTTS for 31 years.

Bernadette Clarke/SBS Information

Her shoppers have fled numerous international locations resulting from traumatic experiences, resulting in psychological well being points, and face new obstacles settling into a distinct nation, tradition and language. 

Lucy’s dedication to the well being and rehabilitation of refugees noticed her introduced as a recipient of the Medal of the Order of Australia on Sunday, a recognition she didn’t count on.

“I really couldn’t imagine it. It’s a lot appreciated to the those who took the initiative of doing this,” she stated. “I really feel extraordinarily nicely about it. Not only for myself, however for my group as nicely. I believe it’s a unbelievable factor to be a part of.”

Recipients for the Queen’s Birthday Honours Listing are nominated by members of the Australian public. This 12 months, 41 per cent of recipients within the Common Division are girls, regardless of a marketing campaign for a 50-50 gender break up. 

Lucy says she is honoured to obtain the award.

“As a lady, as a consultant of females in my group, as a mom, I believe it’s an amazing achievement.”

“I really feel very pleased to be able, later dwelling on this nation after 43 years, the place I really feel very Australian, however I really feel very Chilean. Not solely me, my household [too].”

Lucy Marin

Lucy’s shoppers have fled numerous international locations resulting from traumatic experiences.

Bernadette Clarke/SBS Information

Lucy says her sons, Cesar, now 45, and his Australian-born brother Steve, 37, really feel simply as Chilean and Australian as she does.

Since her boys have been little they’ve sung lullabies in Spanish, they usually have maintained their connection to their Chilean tradition by way of music, taking part in conventional devices such because the charango and drums. 

Lucy admits that working within the trauma sector may be troublesome, and at instances upsetting for her and her colleagues, a lot of whom are additionally from migrant backgrounds.

“It may be very traumatic for me as nicely, [but] the wholesome factor about STARTTS is that now we have a transparent understanding of [the client’s] trauma, as a result of a technique or one other, as a counsellor, we’ve been by way of a few of the identical experiences, or the migration means of settlement, and boundaries.”

One explicit shopper Lucy remembers from her years of service is a 25-year-old man who had been a guerilla in Central America for the reason that age of 9.

“He was doing that in secret as a result of he was informed on the time that if he informed somebody, his household was going to be killed,” she stated. “He was weak, he was not acutely aware of what he was doing.”

Lucy Marin

Lucy together with her husband and sons. The household stay related to their Chilean tradition.


Lucy stated individuals who come from traumatic backgrounds may have the mentality to do terrible issues to folks round them, however her shopper selected to not, and as a substitute, sought her assist.

“That little one being so scared … due to his worry, he may have achieved nasty, ugly issues. He was a sufferer, he may victimise different folks, however he wanted to outlive.”

Lucy says it brings her pleasure bumping into her shoppers years later. 

“It’s a ravishing feeling, seeing these shoppers from 20, 30 years in the past and I can see they’re profitable, settled, centered in life, having their households protected – it’s lovely.”

“I want STARTTS existed in 1977 once I first arrived right here.”

The non-profit service supplies culturally related psychological help and group intervention to assist trauma survivors and refugees rebuild their lives in Australia.

Lucy says she has seen a constructive shift in the best way some minority communities are actually embracing conselling due to bilingual companies changing into extra available.

An space wherein she is being recognised as a part of her honour is her years of offering assist to those that want to communicate Spanish throughout classes.

Lucy Marin

Lucy is proud to obtain a Queen’s Birthday honour.

Bernadette Clarke/SBS Information

“Conceptualising greater than emotions is extraordinarily necessary to specific what you’re feeling in your mom language till you correctly really feel comfy that English may be as a lot as the identical as the opposite language,” she stated. 

“It opens the doorways for particular person shoppers to ponder counselling, as a result of the idea of counselling 30 years in the past was not that acceptable in some communities.”

“I believe today it’s changing into an increasing number of acceptable to go and seek the advice of with somebody or speak to somebody about your ache.”

With no plans to retire any time quickly, Lucy stated she has a message for ladies of all ages who need to comply with a significant trigger. 

“I wish to encourage extra girls, it doesn’t matter the age, to focus of their life and contribute to themselves, their households, their communities, their associates, and say that attending to the place they need to get is feasible.”

Readers in search of help with psychological well being can contact Past Blue on 1300 22 4636. Extra data is accessible at Beyond

Embrace Multicultural Mental Health helps folks from culturally and linguistically numerous backgrounds.


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