Afghan refugee women learn to swim in Australia

STORY: Taking a deep breath and kicking as hard as they can...

20 refugee women from Afghanistan are learning how to swim in a pool in Sydney.

Some have recently arrived in the past year after the Taliban seized power.

The program is called 'Afghan Women on the Move'.

The woman who created it, Maryam Zahid, says the various classes not only help women to learn life skills..

but also give them confidence.

"So we are creating for them memories. Memories of freedom, happiness, opportunities. So I'm sure when they look back, whether how much they are going to learn from these programs, they will remember that 'Oh, when I first came to Australia, or when I first got into this program I went to the water, I made this friend.' And this is exactly what happened to me as well when I first came to Australia. I still remember my first counsellor, the person who helped me and the name of the organisation who picked me up from the airport.

Since the Taliban takeover on August 15 last year, tens of thousands of people fled Afghanistan..

in a mass evacuation arranged by the U.S and partner countries including Australia.

Programs like these also help the newly arrived Afghan women deal with trauma of what happened to them

and leaving members of their family behind.

23-year-old Sahar Azizi is learning how to drive and says the lessons have made her feel independent:

"I decided to start my studies and driving and everything instead of sitting at home all the time and thinking about the bad situation in Afghanistan. It was very stressful so I decided to move on and try my best to be helpful with my husband as well and also do something for me and achieve my dreams and goals."

In the Australian Federal Budget handed down in March 2022, the government announced an additional 16,500 humanitarian places for Afghan refugees over the next four years.