HomeCommunityRefugee family welcomed to Bundaberg

Refugee family welcomed to Bundaberg

Bundaberg Friends of Refugees refugee family
Bundaberg Friends of Refugees welcome a refugee mother and her two children from Iran at the Bundaberg Airport.

A refugee family will now call the Bundaberg Region home thanks to a group of locals committed to providing a safe and welcoming community for the new residents.

The Bundaberg Friends For Refugees group greeted the mother and her two children from Iran at Bundaberg Airport last week.

Although the family do not yet speak English, they will be well supported in Bundaberg under the guidelines of the Australian Government program called the Community Refugee Integration and Settlement Pilot.

It took less than seven months for Bundaberg Friends For Refugees to raise enough funds and support to secure a place for the family to call home.

The group of “everyday Australians” is made up of local mums and dads, teachers, retired locals and business owners, who all had the same goal of wanting to make a difference.

Group coordinator Tessa Thomson, along with other members, met the refugee family for the first time on Tuesday 30 May.

“The family has been living in Iran most of their lives in very tenuous circumstances and now they'll be living in Bundaberg,” she said.

“I am blown away that we have been able to make it happen.”

The refugee family consists of a mother, her 17-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter who were originally from Afghanistan but had been living in Iran for a number of years.

Tessa said it would be a long road ahead for the trio as they settled into a new country with a different culture, new experiences, and start a new life in Bundaberg.

“We've already been able to connect with the Bundaberg Neighbourhood Centre and TAFE to help them with their English courses,” she said.

“I know the mum has written that it's her dream to be able to drive a car which she hasn't been able to previously do and she is also excited that her kids can have educational opportunities.”

More language support needed to help refugee family

Tessa said more support was always welcome.

“We're after people who can speak Farsi,” she said.

“We know a couple of people in Bundaberg who can speak that language, which is otherwise known as Persian.

“I think that's our biggest need at the moment.”

Tessa outlined how the plan to help the refugee family was made possible with support from the local community.

“We've worked through a whole range of challenges, but I feel so privileged to be a part of the process,” she said.

“I’ve learnt so much from working with this incredible group of people; about how you can overcome the paperwork obstacles or whatever it is; finding a house for them and gathering the resources that we need to support them.”

Bundaberg Friends For Refugees refugee family
Bundaberg Friends For Refugees group coordinator Tessa Thomson embraced the refugee mother when the family arrived at Bundaberg airport on Tuesday 30 May.

Local businesses and organisations have also thrown their support behind Bundaberg Friends For Refugees’ plight.

“Rotary Central donated $2000 towards their rent and supplied us with a phone, kitchen appliances and computers for the kids’ schooling.

“There have been individuals who have donated towards their rent and items including linen, food, electrical goods and kitchen items.

“It's churches and schools putting on fundraisers, Domino's Bundaberg and Bargara have helped with a ‘Dough-Raiser’, and Angels Community Group supplied furniture and whitegoods.

“It's been really cool to see the community come behind it.”

Tessa said the Bundaberg Friends For Refugees had become a family during the months of fundraising, applying to be part of the pilot program and waiting for news.

“Hearing that the authorities in Iran were questioning the refugees just before they stepped on the plane to come to Australia was nerve-wracking,” Tessa said.

“Despite this, the family made it to their flights and were greeted joyfully in Bundaberg after almost 24 hours of travelling.

“It's taught me so much and when I've spoken with the refugee mum on the phone, it just makes me feel so grateful to be connected to such an amazing process and it is a privilege to be able to help someone – now I’ve been able to meet her and give her a hug!”

Bundaberg Friends For Refugees refugee family
Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey greeted the refugee family on their arrival and welcomed them to the region.

Bundaberg a safe home for refugee family

Bundaberg Region Mayor Jack Dempsey greeted the refugee family on their arrival at Bundaberg Airport and welcomed them to the region.

“The family from Iran have definitely seen a different life to what we have here,” he said.

“They will now have the opportunity to have a safe home in our community.”

Mayor Dempsey said it was yet again wonderful to see the true community spirit of the Bundaberg Region shine.

“It is truly wonderful to see firsthand how caring our community is,” he said.

“Groups like Bundaberg Friends For Refugees, through selfless endeavours to help the less fortunate, really put the spotlight on this.

“Together as a community we have given this family not only a place to call home but a life here in Bundaberg where they can feel comfortable and be supported.”