Meet, greet and learn at cafe

Shepparton’s female immigrants will have a chance to forge new connections and learn more about opportunities locally, in a safe, female-only environment tonight.

An initiative of the Ethnic Council and Department of Justice and Regulation, the Friendship Cafe will provide a space for young women from different cultural backgrounds to have a cup of tea and share friendly conversation with other women.

Afghan, African and Iraqi women aged between 13 and 25 have been encouraged to attend the event, where they will hear inspiring stories and practical information from Victoria Police and Department of Justice representatives Agok Martin Majier, Belinda Leon and Sergeant Thelma Bull.

Ethnic Council project coordinator Sam Atukorala said the meetings would encourage young women to participate in community activities that would foster interpersonal and community connectedness and a sense of cultural identity.

“One of the main challenges newly arrived women go through in a new country is related to language, also understanding the new culture, legal system and what opportunities are actually out there for them,” Mr Atukorala said. “Our plan is to help them with whatever they need to navigate those challenges, and help them be a part of the community and not feel isolated. So the Friendship Cafe will not only focus on friendships, but putting in a small piece of the larger puzzle.”

The aim of the cafes, which will be held throughout the year, will hopefully encourage young women to participate in community activities to promote positive relationships, and long-term, to promote a positive cultural identity, feel connected to loved ones and community, and feel confident and positive about the future.

Mr Atukorala said the settlement process often took a lifetime to figure out, and long after the government support had ended, many individuals often had to work through the trauma experienced before, during and after leaving their home countries.

Speaking at the event will be South Sudanese immigrant Agok Martin Majier, now a recruitment co-ordinator for Victoria Police, and who will share her journey from her country to Australia, as well as how she landed a career in policing.

“We hope that by sharing her story that will inspire other young women and show them that they too can achieve what Agok has,” Mr Atukorala said. “Language, employment and education are all key focus areas, as well as fostering positive relationships with the police, which is what makes this event so important when creating these relationships and networks.”

For more information, phone the Shepparton Ethnic Council on 5830 2395.


In attendance: Shepparton Police Sergeant Thelma Bull will be a guest speaker at the event. Picture: Holly Curtis

Article and image courtesy Shepparton News




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