Providing a safe haven for refugees fleeing conflict-ravaged lands is something Shepparton has long prided itself on.
But further to that, we should not forget to acknowledge the contribution refugees make to our society after they arrive here.
Refugee Week runs from June 18 to 24 and throughout this week, The News will run a series of stories profiling immigrants who now call Shepparton home.
Today we have told the story of Iraqi immigrants Saad Al Jizani, his wife Balsam, their daughter Bronaya and Saad’s mother-in-law Ibtisam.
They have spoken of their fear of living in conflict-ravaged Iraq, and assimilating into life in Australia.
The family explained that while in Iraq, it would regularly move out of neighbourhoods that had succumbed to danger, had little access to water and healthcare, and had daily threats made on their lives.
It is a reality far removed from what we experience in Australia but stories like this from immigrants are sadly not in isolation.
While there is undoubted challenges to living here, the family see a bright future for them in this country.
What Shepparton has been able to do exceptionally well for many years is provide a great model for successful settlement and integration of refugees.
We have many organisations and individuals to thank for that, including Kildonan Uniting Care, Ethnic Council of Shepparton, and our schools, churches and other groups.
Many people who have arrived in the Goulburn Valley as refugees have settled and gone on to make great contributions to the region.
Some have become community leaders or have become part of Shepparton’s major industries, all while being grateful of having a safe place to live.
Importantly, each has contributed in a cultural sense, to a place which prides itself on its multiculturalism.
We hope you enjoy the rest of the stories throughout the week and that they provide a great insight into the lives of immigrants who now call Shepparton their home.