Refugees boost rural city
Resettling refugees has proven a boon for a regional Victorian economy.
About 1,000 Karen people - an ethnic minority from Myanmar – live in Bendigo, 150 kilometres north of Melbourne.
A new study from Deloitte Access Economics and Adult Multicultural Education Services (AMES) Australia has found that the Karen community has contributed an estimated $67.1 million to the Bendigo economy.
The analysis also found that 177 full-time equivalent positions have been created for Karen workers.
AMES Australia chief Cath Scarth says the study shows the value of regional refugee resettlement.
“When well-facilitated, it can make a significant contribution to the economic as well as the cultural-social fabric of regional communities,” Ms Scarth said.
Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services (LCMS) is among a group of facilities that provide support for new rivals in Bendigo.
LCMS executive officer Kate McInnes said the refugee resettlement was transformative.
“I love that we can be living in a regional setting but have that cultural diversity where [my children] get to mix with people from all over world. They get to experience festivals from all over the world,” Ms McInnes said.
Ms McInnes said the refugee community had even helped break down religious tensions.
“We have seen some ugly protests from a section of the community that are not very welcoming,” Ms McInnes said.
“One dinner or one barbecue or one cup of tea can change people's attitudes, because people haven't had that opportunity previously to meet anyone who's come to Australia as a refugee.”