Photo: What Makes Our Community Great: Sarah McWaters from Teys Australia, Sandy Talbot from the NLBTA, Hafeezullah Haidari of Pearl Indian Cuisine, Member for MacKillop Nick McBride, MRC Coordinator Jenny Stirling, and Mayor Erika Vickery.

The Limestone Coast Migrant Resource Centre put on a public lunch today to celebrate Refugee Week (17-23 June), with many regional leaders and people from Naracoorte’s Hazara community in attendance.

This year’s special guest was Okke Velzeboer, the Community Liaison Officer (SA) for the Department of Home Affairs.

Mr Velzeboer told the assembled crowd that Australia had welcomed 800,000 refugees since World War Two. In the past three years alone, 55,000 migrants have called our nation home.

This year’s theme for Refugee Week is ‘I Stand With Refugees’. Mr Velzeboer said that the theme was to help others “better understand the courage and contribution of refugees”.

Refugees had escaped war-torn countries to go on to be successful in business, sport, education, and the health sector, Mr Velzeboer explained.

And it’s not only the cities that have welcomed migrants.

“We (the Department of Home Affairs) have seen the generosity of regional communities,” Mr Velzeboer said.

This generosity comes from government bodies, business, and the general population.

These observations were later echoed by Naracoorte Lucindale Mayor Erika Vickery, who stated that she had spent the last three days in Canberra.

Whilst she was there, it was a topic of conversation among local government bodies nationwide – the need to have more migrants in communities to keep Australia vibrant.

Mayor Vickery also thanked everyone who came to the lunch, and those that had helped behind the scenes to make it a success.