Stories of Engagement 2017 - Community Impact

I'm a local Refugee Week Cassie Aguot 767px

Cassie Aguot - 'I'm a Local'

‘I’m A Local’ Campaign wins coveted Community Impact Award

When does a refugee start to identify as a local? This was a key question answered in the project: “I’m A Local” during Refugee Week in 2017.

The project featured seven refugees who now identify as locals. Three of them – John Mapatano, Anthony Leju and Cassie Aguot - were Southern Cross University students.

The aim of the project was to celebrate those people who came to Lismore as refugees, and to acknowledge their contributions to the Lismore community.

The project provided a space for conversations about the strengths of diversity and dignity and it celebrated what we share in common as human beings.

“When does the refugee tag fall away? It's a process, it's a discussion, and it's worldwide,” said Leandro Mendes, Migrant Settlement Worker at St Vincent de Paul Society Lismore. “People who come here as refugees go through the process of being settled. But concurrently there's also the process of the mainstream community looking, treating and interacting with them as people rather than with the refugee badge attached.”

Rob Cumings, the project coordinator at Southern Cross University's Equity and Diversity Office, said it was a positive project to be involved in. “It is impressive how engaged these people are with the community. All of them are involved in local sports teams, volunteering, working, studying. They really are taking every opportunity to benefit from being here in Lismore”.

Refugee Week is an annual, national event to raise awareness about the issues affecting refugees and celebrates the positive contributions made by refugees to Australian society.

This project was presented with the Excellence in Community Impact Award at the 2017 Excellence in Engagement Awards.

Award Recipients:

Rob Cumings; Equity and Diversity, Office of the Pro Vice Chancellor (Students). Dr Leticia Anderson; School of Arts and Social Sciences. Leandro Mendes and Cheryl Nolan; North Coast Settlement Service, St Vincent De Paul Society.

Award Citation:

For the 2017 Refugee Week "I'm A Local" project, created to improve understandings about refugees, acknowledge their contributions to Australian society and support the Lismore community's culture of respect and inclusion by celebrating our strength in diversity.

Media Coverage:

www.northernstar.com.au/news/im-a-local-changing-perspectives-through-lismores-/

www.echo.net.au/2017/06/lismore-locals-shaking-off-refugee-tag/