A new short film captures Greater Dandenong’s many faiths.
People with refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds contributed to The Welcome Tours during four Greater Dandenong Interfaith Network bus tours last year.
The network launched the film at Walker Street Gallery in Dandenong on Thursday 17 November.
The Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship (OMAC) and Greater Dandenong Council funded the trips.
The network regularly runs similar tours for the general public, Interfaith Network development officer Helen Heath explained.
“One of the initial aims of the interfaith tours program was to train asylum seekers or refugees as volunteer tour guides, providing an opportunity to be positively engaged in social activities while learning about different faiths and in turn teaching others about their own,” she said.
“However, this proved a challenging task in just encouraging participants to join these tours.
“So the focus shifted to conducting tours and trying to encourage diverse groups of participants to join in.”
Part of the funding included filmmaker Richard Leigh attending the tours to share stories from the places visited and from participants.
“The aim of the film primarily is to educate the community about the challenge of being a new arrival, particularly as an asylum seeker or refugee in the local Dandenong area, and for participants to feel free and able to tell their stories,” Ms Heath said.
“The times that people had come to Australia varied from three days to nine years so there was a wide range of experience.
“Everyone seemed to enjoy the time and by the end of the tour had met and engaged with new people – both each other on the bus and the communities that welcomed them – and had learnt something of the different faiths, food and culture of those two communities here in the City of Greater Dandenong.”
Next year’s Places of Worship tours will take place on Wednesdays 12 April, 14 June, 9 August, 11 October and 13 December. The cost is $25.
Call Ms Heath on 8774 7662 or 0421 829 563, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book a tour.
Watch The Welcome Tours.