Refugee family arriving in Aireys soon

March 30, 2023 BY

AIRAR's Jules Rolfe talks to the crowd at the Bring Them Here event. Photos: JAMES TAYLOR

THE “Bring Them Here” project in Aireys Inlet has celebrated its success and revealed more about the refugee family who will arrive in the community in the very near future.

Organised by Aireys Inlet Rural Australians for Refugees (AIRAR), Bring Them Here is one of the Community Refugee Integration and Settlement Pilot (CRISP) projects supported by the federal government, which aims to permanently resettle 1,500 refugees within four years.

AIRAR fundraised the more than $30,000 needed to support the refugee family within only two months, and held an information night at the Aireys Inlet Community Hall on Sunday night to give the latest updates on the project.

Bring Them Here co-ordinating group leader Jules Rolfe quoted poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou at the start of her remarks.

Hagog Arab Oghlian (left) plays the keyboard as his sister Shoghig Arab Oghlian looks on.


“Do the best you can until you know better, and then when you know better, do better, and so it has been for AIRAR,” she said.

She said the family matched to Aireys Inlet for 12 months via CRISP comprised a husband and wife and their six-year-old daughter from Burundi who have been living in a refugee camp in Kenya since 2015, and they were expected to arrive shortly after Easter.

“Twenty-three families have arrived [in Australia] so far, and I know from CRISP that we are the smallest community in Australia currently working to settle a refugee family.

“There’s a second group – Aireys Inlet Uniting Outreach – looking to do the same later in the year, so we are well and truly punching above our weight.”

The Anglesea Community Rock Choir performs on stage.


She said many businesses and individuals had offered to help the family integrate.

“I cannot thank everybody who has got behind the Bring Them Here campaign more; you have made this happen.

“You have all contributed in big ways and small to support this project, and we will wrap our arms around this family and support them in their new and vastly different life, to help them forge their own paths in this new country, wherever that may take them.

“We have dreamed big, and now those dreams are coming to fruition. And we can all rest for the moment, knowing we have done better.”

Black with a Dash pulled Anglesea Ward councillor Libby Stapleton (third from left) on stage to help out with one of their numbers.


Bring Them Here’s Marg Jacobs thanked the sizeable crowd and said Bring Them Here was very unlike the model that saw her relatives come to Australia from Europe.

“Community refugee sponsorship is so different – it’s why we’re all here today and it’s very wonderful to see you all here.

“It operates on the basis of need, it’s not about whether the refugee has the right nationality.”

The night included several speeches, including from former Syrian/Armenian refugee and now permanent resident Shoghig Arab Oghlian, music from her brother Hagog Arab Oghlian, and performances from local choir Black with a Dash and the Anglesea Community Rock Choir.

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