As published in The Border Watch.
Written by Katie Jackson.
Photo: Artistic Flair: Mount Gambier Migrant Resource Centre volunteer Lorna Gilmore and Moo Too have been creating items which will be showcased tomorrow night as part of a celebration of refugee settlement in the region.
South East participates in nationwide annual event
Australia’s Refugee Week celebrations began on Sunday, marking 20 years since becoming a nationwide annual event.
To celebrate, the Mount Gambier Migrant Resource Centre and Mount Gambier North Primary School will join together tomorrow night for an event showcasing the positive impact of welcoming refugees on our community.
As last year also marked 10 years of Burmese settlement in Mount Gambier, a regional report was created and will be launched on the night.
The report includes inspiring success stories of some of Mount Gambier’s migrants and will be launched by Department of Home Affairs’ Jane Sansom.
The night will include cultural food and music showcasing the contribution the refugee community has made to the South East.
Mount Gambier MRC manager Anelia Blackie said the event would help people in the community see how much support the region receives form migrants.
“The settlement program has created so many jobs in the South East,” she said.
“Schools in the region have been able to employ more staff as student numbers have risen, places like doctor’s offices, translating programs and sports teams are also benefiting.
“In addition to creating jobs, they fill the jobs that were previously empty in industries such as forestry, farming and wine.”
Over 400 migrants from Myanmar (formerly Burma) are currently living in Mount Gambier, with the majority filling seasonal work positions.
“Although people think migrants are unskilled or have not received any education like we do, they actually led very normal lives up until things started changing over there,” Ms Blackie said.
“We have migrants employed at Boandik as aged carers, some are working as tradesmen, there are translators and people working in hospitality.
“There are also many migrants that are small businesses owners who are able to employ members of our community as well.
“We want everyone to realise how much they contribute day to day.”
Tomorrow’s event will highlight these achievements and Ms Blackie hopes the community will take the time to recognise the positive impacts of refugee settlement in the region.
“Everyone is welcome to come down and check out the event,” she said.
“It would be great to give thanks as they have enriched everyone’s lives without many of us even realising.”
In addition to the Thursday night celebrations, the MRC will also host a morning tea this morning to acknowledge the effort Boandik has put into supporting local migrants.
“Every week elderly members of our migrant community get together at the MRC,” Ms Blackie said.
“But it would not be possible without the help of Boandik, they run two buses and pick everyone up to bring them here.
“We are so grateful for their support, so we think the morning tea would be a great way to say thanks.”
Tomorrow’s event will be held in the Mount Gambier North Primary School gym at 6pm.
Contact the Mount Gambier Migrant Resource Centre on (08) 87264 800 for further information.