By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services' Managing Director
Australia has a great history of multiculturalism and wouldn’t be the country it is today without the contributions of immigrants and refugees.
Diversity allows an opportunity for education, understanding and growth that should not only be welcomed but celebrated.
Refugee Week, June 20 – 26, is not only an opportunity to celebrate diversity and multiculturalism in our communities, but provides a platform for conversation about what still needs to be done in this space.
The aim of Refugee Week is to educate the Australian public about who refugees are and why they have come to Australia, and to help people understand the many challenges refugees face when moving to a new country.
We need to ensure our local communities provide a safe and welcoming environment for refugees, and that refugees, asylum seekers and displaced people are not met with misunderstanding – often communicated from a place of fear.
This year’s theme of Refugee Week is Unity – The way forward.
If the restrictions and separations created by the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that human connection and interaction is valued above all else.
The message this Refugee Week is to rebuild and thrive, together; unified.
At IMPACT Community Services, particularly within our Community Navigator program that assists people achieve greater independence and wellbeing, we are seeing an increase in the cultural diversity of people in need of our supports.
While IMPACT does not specialise in refugee services, we maintain a strong relationship with the Bundaberg Neighbourhood Centre and refer people to their programs when suitable.
The Bundaberg Neighbourhood Centre helps new or existing migrants who need assistance with settlement or general access to services, and offers a range of programs to encourage social interaction, connection, and friendship.
From English classes and residency applications to workshops, events and playgroups, the Neighbourhood Centre has the best interests of local migrants and refugees at heart.
They have also recently advertised three group activities specifically for multicultural engagement.
‘Culture Bites’ invites Bundaberg families to share a plate of their cultural food with others; ‘Dance N Chat’ is a new women’s support group based on learning different dance styles; and ‘Wade N Chat’ aims to incorporate a friendly and supportive catch up with gentle pool exercises for all abilities.
There are so many wonderful people and organisations within our community who share IMPACT’s values and beliefs; we are stronger together, and we can help others improve their lives.
Creating positive change begins with kindness, acceptance and the willingness to include others.