Maroondah is becoming an increasingly diverse community, with India, China, Burma, Sri Lanka and Sudan featuring in the top 10 most common countries of birth for recent immigrants into Maroondah. In recent years, Maroondah has also seen an increase in refugees who have left their former homes to start a new life within Australia and Maroondah.
Refugee Week is an event facilitated through the Refugee Council of Australia and for 2010 is held between the 20th and 26th of June, coinciding with World Refugee Day which is on the 20th. This afternoon I was invited to launch Maroondah’s celebration of Refugee Week, held at Maroondah Secondary College, a school that has a number of refugee families.
The launch of Refugee Week was a cultural experience, featuring food, dancing and music from many of Maroondah’s multicultural communities.
The theme for Refugee Week 2010 is Freedom From Fear, reflecting the past experiences, in escaping repression, hardship and warfare, and the desire for a welcoming community. Several organisations have been working in partnership to provide services for refugees, including Maroondah City Council, Victoria Police, the Migrant Information Centre, Swinburne University, AMES and schools such as Maroondah Secondary College and Ringwood Secondary College.
These organisations have provided an holistic approach to assisting migrants within Maroondah, including the compilation of a guide on local services and groups for migrants and refugees within Maroondah. The Guide, which was first produced in 2007, has been updated to include new services and groups that are available to migrants and refugees.
I had the pleasure of launching the Booklet and I was joined by Cr Ann Fraser to launch a learn to drive program for migrants supported by several organisations, including Maroondah City Council. These services will assist in providing a positive and welcoming future for Maroondah’s emerging communities.
The Guide for Migrant and Refugees will also be available at Maroondah’s Service Centres, as well as the Maroondah City Council website www.maroondah.vic.gov.au.