Refugee plight in spotlight

By Eden Hynninen

TWO Macedon Ranges community organisations are banding together to lead community awareness on refugees.

Romsey Neighbourhood House and Lancefield Neighbourhood House are hosting a ‘Refugee awareness movie night’ at Romsey Hub on March 22.

The movie ‘Human Flow’ is a film led by international artist Ai Weiwei through powerful visual expression on human migration.

The neighbour houses’ initiative follows the Macedon Ranges Shire Council’s approval of the Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) at a meeting in February.

The visa allows refugees to live, work and study in Australia for up to five years. It provides temporary protection and encourages full-time study and employment in regional areas.

Council are considering a process to support a settlement network, cultural competency training and community awareness programs.

Macedon Ranges Rural Australians for Refugees volunteer Jane Frazer said the movie was received well in Woodend.

“We showed the same film there recently with about 70 or 80 people – it was excellent,” Ms Frazer said.

“Sue Kirkegard, also a volunteer, and I are from Romsey so we wanted to see if people here would be interested in it.”

Ms Frazer believes the visa approval will help refugees integrate into the community.
“It will help build their independence and I hope the community can get behind them,” Ms Frazer said.

“It’s what we aim for in life isn’t it? To have a home for your family and to be able to work and be educated.”

Ms Kirkegard believes movie nights will answer many questions that the community have about refugees.

“Some people have questions about refugees like how do you know they are genuine? Where do they come from? What difference is it going to make with our life?” Ms Kirkegard said.

“I found this story just tracked what was happening to people. It didn’t tell you what to believe.

“It just tells you the stories of the people and what it’s like to live in an environment like that.

“I thought about the things we’ve been enriched by like spaghetti, cappuccinos, Vietnamese food – all of this is part of Australia.

“I think people always want to help, they just don’t know how. Hopefully movie nights like this can help.”

The movie night starts at 6.30pm. Family and friends are invited to learn about personal stories in the current global refugee crisis.