Swan Hill Uniting Chruch Community Issues Group
The Swan Hill Community Issues Group has been in operation since 2000 when the first wave of Afghani refugees came to Swan Hill. The group is a part of the Uniting Church but is comprised of other denominations and community members. The men who came in 2000/01 worked on fruit blocks and waited until 2007 before there was family reunion.
We worked to support these families, who were mainly Hazara when there were few agencies providing support.
In 2011, a second wave of Boat People arrived. Most are now employed in the fruit industry or the Abbatoirs.
We have 35-40 Hazara families now and the men without families number 40-90.
Funding comes from govt. grants and voluntary organisations.
- Over the years we have spent over $3000 paying for driving licences and lessons…we feel this saves lives
- Each month we hold a Welcome Night when we give information about living in Australia, health, road rules, fire safety, govt policies, and the dangers of the river. Attendance varies from 40 to 100. Sometimes the men cook for this evening.
- We provide material support when the men move into accommodation and food supplies when necessary.
- We have supplied school uniforms for new families and advised on fee payments.
- Swimming lessons have been given for women and college girls.
- Much time is spent filling in forms as agencies do not provide his service. We spent many hours assisting during the Census Program.
- An English Class has been available for Hazara women and other cultural groups. Each week an open house is held at the church to which the men come for assistance. We now find it necessary to hold a class to teach the Citizenship Test.
- Over the years we have developed programs in Community Awareness when we take bus loads of people to rural communities. These communities have appreciated the chance to meet refugees and the refugees enjoy the rural hospitality. We have visited and shared with..Bendigo, Maryborough,Boort, Quambatook, Kerang, Wycheproof, Sea Lake, and Charlton.
The Kerang Group have been most supportive and are able to liaise freely with the refugees.
Read about the group when refugees and members of the Swan Hill community came together to share a laugh and a chat at the Uniting Church community issues group’s monthly meeting on Saturday night. Community welcomes refugees by
Rohullah, Akbar and Mujitaba with Jill and Jan at welcome events
organised by Swan Hill Community Issues Group.
From the Swan Hill Guardian – June 2013.
For more information
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