Somali refugee at home in North Queensland as Townsville Multicultural Support Group resettlement numbers rise
“I love Townsville,” beams Abdi Omar Osman, resplendent in his North Queensland Fury shirt.
To say that his journey here has been a long and arduous one would be a dramatic understatement.
Born in 1991, Mr. Osman and his family fled their native Somalia when war broke out later that year.
What followed was a journey of more than 700 kilometres, to the relative safety of the world’s largest refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya.
After more than 20 years there, sometimes eating only once a day, the opportunity to resettle and build a new life in Australia was one the aspiring nurse was determined to grasp with both hands.
“There’s a lot of things I can do now… like [study] biology, chemistry… English is my second language but I am going to improve,” he says, already at level three of his TAFE English language course.
“It is a shame to get only Centrelink money… you must work.”
Stories of refugees prospering in Townsville are becoming increasingly common since the city’s Multicultural Support Group accepted a contract to house and integrate those approved for resettlement.
“In the last financial year there’s been over 250 [refugees resettled] … the previous year was 198… eight years ago there might have been 50,” says manager Meg Davis.
“Most of those people stay and settle long term now in Townsville where originally when there were very small numbers people stayed here for less than six months and went further south to the big metropolitan cities.”
Successive governments have called on regional Australia to play a bigger role in encouraging refugees to settle outside of the nation’s capital cities, with Federal Government plans recently announced for safe haven enterprise visas which would require asylum seekers found to be refugees to live and work in rural areas.
Source: ABC Australia