By Casey Neill
Migrants in Dandenong are stitching up donated fabric to clothe people in need around the world.
Stitches to Style owner Liz Roadley stopped by Southern Migrant and Refugee Centre (SMRC) on Wednesday 30 August to hand over the material.
“I own a fabric store in High Street, Armidale, that sells exclusive fabric,” she said.
“I go to Europe to buy it a couple of times a year. It’s luxury fabric. Some of it’s used by big designers.”
SMRC runs The Learning Space at its Dandenong headquarters from 10am to 2pm on Wednesdays during school terms.
The day includes English, sewing and computer sessions that encourage migrants to socialise and learn new skills.
SMRC chairman Brian Oates said people who came in as members were now instructing others.
“The clothes are going to people in need in other countries,” he said.
Participants swap ideas and share their cultures.
“It really is a vibrant little exercise,” he said.
Mr Oates said two or three blokes came along, but mostly women attended.
SMRC offers childcare to free them up to actively participate.
Bruce MP Julian Hill told Ms Roadley about the program when she was looking for a worthy outlet for her space fabrics.
“I’ve got a lot of people who work for me who migrated to Australia, or work closely with us,” she said.
“There are dressmakers from around the world.
“Every new wave of migrants brings a new set of skills, but it always brings some skill in this area.”
This was Ms Roadley’s second donation, but the first time she’d stopped by to see it put to use.
“It absolutely blew my mind,” she said.
“It was all spread out on the table. They got so excited.
“I was pleased I was able to help.
“Just seeing the sparkle in their eyes when they saw the fabric was enough to make me very pleased.”
SMRC is a not-for-profit community-based agency that’s been helping migrants and refugees in Greater Dandenong, Casey and Cardinia since 1993.
It also provides support, information and consultation to committees, groups and meetings at local, regional, state and commonwealth levels.