City aims to help “healing” during Refugee Week

June 23, 2022 BY

Former Ukrainian resident Helen Chernonok arrived in Australia two months ago to flee the war in her home country. Now living in Jan Juc, she’s being supported by the Ukrainian Community in Geelong and Cultura. Photo: SUPPLIED

STORIES like Ukrainian-born Helen Chernonok’s are among several being shared by the City of Greater Geelong as the municipality celebrates Refugee Week from June 20-25.

Ms Chernonok arrived in Australia from Kyiv just a couple of months ago to flee from the war taking place in her home country and has since settled in the Surf Coast town of Jan Juc.

While she said her experience transitioning has been difficult, Ms Chernonok believes she is firmly supported by the Ukrainian Community in both Geelong and Cultura (formerly Diversitat and MACS).

“I’m really grateful that I can live here in safety,” Ms Chernonok said.

“It’s also a huge change for me because I was successful and independent back home. But here, I have to rely on other people’s kindness.

“I live in a beautiful area, by the beach. It really helps me to go to the beach and sit, sometimes for hours, and just watch the waves.”

Refugee Week aims to educate Australians on the many reasons refugees leave their homes and promoting their successes in their new countries.

Refugee Week’s 2022 theme is “Healing”, highlighting the importance of how we can learn from shared experiences of hardship.

Recognised as a ‘Refugee Welcome Zone’ since 2002, the City of Greater Geelong and its Multicultural Action Plan Advisory Committee continues to support and guide Council to provide inclusive programs for refugees.

Geelong’s new mayor Peter Murrihy said the City is dedicated to advocating for refugees and humanitarian arrivals.

“As one of the primary settlement areas in Victoria for humanitarian entrants, Greater Geelong welcomes hundreds of refugees every year,” Cr Murrihy said.

“Ongoing conflicts in countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, and most recently Ukraine have displaced many people, and some of these people now call Geelong home.”

“The City welcomes all new residents, and we’re here to support you as much
as possible.”

A short, animated film created by the City in collaboration with Bluebird Foundation, Wellways, Western Victoria PHN and Cultura, will add to the projects being taken on throughout the year.

The film will feature and handful of young people with refugee backgrounds speaking on mental health and how support services can better reach an array of cultural groups.

To see the video and read all the interviews, head to www.geelongaustralia.com.au/refugeeweek.