Community donations flood in for newly arrived Afghan refugees

Katie Johnson

Two thousand Afghan refugees are settling into the inner city with the help of volunteers and donations from the local community.

Businesses and residents have donated millions of dollars’ worth of clothing, food and toiletries to those most in need with the help of migrant services organisation AMES Australia.

AMES Australia spokesperson Laurie Nowell said that there had been an “amazing response” from individuals and businesses to help vulnerable families.

“So far we’ve had nine tonnes of clothing, beds, nappies and toiletries worth more than a million dollars donated so it’s been a big effort,” Mr Nowell said.

“We’ve also provided them with culturally-familiar meals like Afghan bread from Dandenong and hot meals from local Middle Eastern restaurants.”

“Normally refugees would have those things when they come but as these families were forced to flee their home quickly with only their clothes and passport and they’ve been catapulted out of their normal lives.”

Currently the refugees are housed in five temporary accommodation sites, including three student apartment blocks in the inner city.

Families have been enjoying their temporary home in Carlton and are taking full advantage of the new Lincoln Square playground.

Mr Nowell said that AMES was working on finding long-term housing, getting them vaccinated, and preparing them for the next few months.

“We’ve secured 500 family homes so far and we’re looking for another 500 over the next few months,” he said.

“We’re working with them to provide healthcare, mental health counselling, torture and trauma counselling, setting them up with English language tuition, bank accounts, and talking to them about education and employment.”

AMES has also set up a messaging system in Dari and Pashto to communicate important information about events like the earthquake, daylight savings and protests in the city.

Mr Nowell said the best thing the community could do to help now was to donate money to help refugees settle into their new homes and buy household items.

“The best thing people can do is donate money, and also make friends if they turn up in your neighbourhood to help them feel welcome,” Mr Nowell said •

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Caption: AMES Australia workers and volunteers sorting through donations at Drill Hall’s multicultural hub.

Caption: Healthcare workers have ensured recently arrived refugees receive the COVID vaccine.

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