Opinion

Happy Refugee Week

By Shepparton News

Nothing new in a neighbour’s fear, which causes anger and upset.

However, the fear disappears once you realise the object of your anger is not attacking you.

Back in 2004 Trish and I had the good fortune to be part of Rural Australians for Refugees (RAR). We helped settle the first Afghan family off the detention centre at Nauru into Perrivale Dve in Shepparton.

One Saturday some time later, we received a call from Vicki Mitsos, who tirelessly worked for refugees at TAFE, to say an Afghan refugee mother with four boys had just arrived from Sydney and she was in a foetal position under the kitchen table and would we go around and talk to her.

Not able to speak her language, Dari, we picked up the daughter and mother who had by now settled in Perrivale Dve, to be able to speak to her with us.

As we walked in the driveway of the newly arrived refugee, a neighbour yelled at us over the fence, ‘‘we know what you and your lot are up to, we won’t put up with it’’.

He was rude and intimidating. He had taken offence at being swamped by ‘‘reffos’’.

He thought their arrival was aimed at him and he was angry.

We went round to see the Afghan family a month later and the angry neighbour and his family were there having a barbecue with all the children playing together.

If we exchange refugee for addict and neighbour for neighbour we see the same challenge today.

Our mind plays tricks on us and when we believe they’re out to get us our anger and upset will stop us having barbecues.

Shepparton is a welcoming community; sometimes it takes time to see it.

Rob Bryant

Shepparton