About Us

About Us

About Us

The overarching goal of the Asylum Seekers Support Trust (ASST) is to help create a New Zealand where Asylum Seekers are welcomed, supported and thriving.

Who We Are

We do this by providing emergency housing and other critical humanitarian support from a qualified social workers and support workers who give advice and practical assistance based on assessment of individual need. ASST works in ways that respect the diversity of people who seek asylum and refugees and does not discriminate based on any grounds such as colour, race, ethnic or national origins, age, disability, sex, gender, gender expression, sec characteristics, sexual orientation, religious belief, ethical belief, political opinion, employment status, family status, marital status etc.

OUR TEAM

Meet Our Leadership

Andrew Barron

Board Member

Andrew has been working in the education sector for over 18 years. He started out as a language teacher before moving to the International Office at the University of Auckland. Through his time there, he worked with domestic and international students in several student support and pastoral care roles. 

More recently, Andrew has taken up the role of Manager for English Language Partners North Shore. Andrew has a strong desire to work collaboratively with organizations to help build our community.

Baptist Lobo

Board Member

Baptist is a Chartered Accountant and CPA, a high achiever and a go-getter with a can-do attitude, a professional with many years of experience years of experience in technical/financial/project/management accounting, commercial management and reporting. He has worked for small, medium and

large-scale multinational organisations, progressing to more responsible positions and financial leadership roles. He is a natural team player admired for his ability to add value and foster partnership at all levels; a results-oriented lateral thinker who can identify opportunities, manage, and drive change; a member on various not-for-profit boards; and runs and manages his own CA practice.

Maithili Sreen

Board Member

Maithili is a lawyer working in Tāmaki Makaurau, with a strong dedication to defending the rights of asylum seekers. Having previously worked as a refugee barrister, Maithili has experience in navigating New Zealand’s refugee determination process and providing support to vulnerable individuals seeking refuge. In 2020, Maithili

transitioned her practice to focus on indigenous rights law and works for Māori clients across the country. Maithili is committed to creating a more inclusive society that respects the dignity and rights of all individuals.

Patricia Brevis

Board Member

Patricia is a multi-faceted woman with extensive professional and personal experience. She is a commercial engineer and licensed economist with a masters degree in international commerce and university pedagogy. As well as being an entrepreneur and body-building competitor, she is deeply

committed to personal growth and discipline. A mother of three sons and an active member of St Benedict Church, she serves as a communion member and chorister. With over 34 years of experience, she has been a university professor, worked in social evaluation projects for government and has served as a financial analyst. She is committed to justice and moral values, and her faith and participation in the choir contribute to her personal growth.

Yusrin Salleh

Board Member

Yusrin is dedicated to youth and community development. He has contributed to the community in Brunei, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. His time in New Zealand allowed him to expand his dedication to the rangatahi and Asylum Seekers Support Trust. His family too, supports his dedication and

participates in his pursuit. As a trilingual, Yusrin hopes to be able to work with councils like ASST, such as RASNZ and RCNZ to assist recipients in both the North and South Island.

Judy Wilford

Board Member

Judy began volunteering with ASST in 2019 and joined the Board the following year. Her working life has included ten years teaching English language, mainly at RMIT University in Melbourne, and 20 years as senior publications editor at the University of Auckland. Her academic study has been in linguistics,

journalism and international relations. She has worked and studied for 16 years overseas, mainly in Australia, Italy, and the Middle East, and strongly believes in the need for justice for those who seek asylum, and in New Zealand’s responsibility to provide a safe welcome and the support they need.

Jen Lander

Board Member

Jen graduated from Auckland University with a B.Com/LLB and worked as a banking and corporate lawyer at Russell McVeagh in Auckland for 10 years (with a few years at Linklaters in London). She has been volunteering at ASST since 2018 doing a wide variety of jobs to ease the

workload of the social workers and support staff. She has recently re-kindled her Te Reo journey. She is a mother of two young girls, 11 and 9, and lives with her husband Mike. She has lived in central Auckland most of her adult life. She enjoys spending time with her family who live close by and enjoys being part of her school and local community.

Bella Munro

Board Member

Bella Munro is a wife and mother to three children aged 16, 13 and 8. She is a strong advocate for human rights and social justice. Bella completed her Masters in Social Work in 2022 and currently works for The UMMA Trust supporting women and families from refugee backgrounds. Having worked in

client services with ASST from 2018-2020, Bella understands the systemic challenges and marginalization that asylum seekers face.

Hannah Ryder

Secretary

Hannah is a Brit married to a kiwi and currently living in Remuera, Auckland. They have two primary school aged kids. She volunteers one day a week at ASST, mainly assembling and delivering food boxes but also collecting donations from her community following requests for anything and

everything! She also coordinates the receipt of the Good Bitches baking for the clients. Other things that fill her bucket include playing squash, walking, playing the piano, driving for Meals on Wheels, dining out in exciting new spots and planning travel, whether she ends up going or not!

Bernard Sama

Board Chair

Bernard Sama comes from an anglophone minority region (former British Southern Cameroons), now a people systemically persecuted by the francophone-led government of the Cameroons. Facing political persecution while on pupillage as a human rights lawyer in his country, Bernard fled to

Aotearoa, seeking asylum, and was recognised by the government as a convention refugee in 2008. He successfully reunited with his daughters in 2019, a decade later. Bernard decided to give back to this beautiful country by voluntarily supporting other new arrivals in the refugee community and advocating for the improvement of conditions of asylum seekers and convention refugees in Aotearoa New Zealand. Over the past years, this motivation has brought him into different leadership roles in the refugee community, including serving now as the Board Chair of the Asylum Seekers Support Trust. Bernard is also completing his PhD research, which explores how health and well-being in the refugee status determination procedure could be improved through focusing on the therapeutic jurisprudence perspective.

OUR TEAM

Meet Our Operations Team

Dawit Arshak

General Manager

Christina

Service Manager

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Senior Social Worker

May Eqbal

Support Worker

Vijitha Visagan

Support Worker

Michael Zhuang

Support Worker

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Support Worker

Feras Alhantosh

Driver

Tim Maurice

Finance / Admin

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