Dr Mark Timlin - 25 July 2013
Craig Fillingham, a Refugee Health Nurse for Monash Health shared his thoughts about the event, which reflect the sentiments of many:
As a new member of the Refugee Health Team based at Doveton I attended the event at the Basket Ball stadium in Dandenong to celebrate Refugee Week and had no idea what the event would consist of. On arrival to the stadium I was met by a large sports hall at one end were 2 football pitches and the other end decorated with Afghan clothing, pictures, photographs, and a wonderfully decorated wishing well. At 5 o’clock the room was buzzing with football teams warming up for the football tournament.
During the evening speeches were made, notably from a refugee, now Australian citizen, Najaf Mazari who manages a rug shop in Prahran. He encouraged those asylum seekers and refugee’s in attendance to venture out of Dandenong and go to the city to understand Australian culture, and enjoy this opportunity they have. This was followed by a display by a local taekwondo club that was very impressive.
Live music was played on the traditional Afghan Tambora which led to spontaneous dancing breaking out, but the highlight for me was the women’s football tournament. The winners were a team made up a Afghan school girls, who showed not only determination and commitment but a good level of skill. They beat a team of Australian women made up mainly of my nursing colleagues, who it has to be said were considerably older and taller than the Afghan girls!
My overall feelings leaving the event was being impressed by the attendance, the enthusiasm the event was received and the welcoming atmosphere. For me it was a fantastic way of getting to meet the some of the community I will be working with away from a health setting.
Thanks! - Craig
Ali, came to Australia on a boat in 2000. He is a family man and contributes a lot to his local community. Six years ago he started a Taekwondo club with a few students, he now has a group of 30 people and travels overseas to judge at international tournaments. He also saw the need for Afghan students to keep up their language skills. Again 6 years ago he set up the Payam Dari School, with 20 students. It now has 600 students!
Following on from the event, we understand a lot of work needs to be done to achieve equity in the Health and Welfare of Asylum seekers and Refugees. Social inclusion is a large element of this and we hope that events like this can stimulate new ideas and projects to further build bridges between our local and migrant communities to continue to enrich Australia.