Embracing Diversity: The Journey of Refugees in Greater Dandenong


In the heart of Australia lies the City of Greater Dandenong, a beacon of diversity and inclusion. Recognized as the nation’s most multicultural municipality, Greater Dandenong is home to individuals from over 157 nationalities, creating a vibrant tapestry of cultures and experiences. This year, as Refugee Week unfolded from June 16th to June 22nd, the city once again showcased its unwavering commitment to welcoming refugees, highlighting the profound impact of organizations like the Southern Migrant Refugee Centre (SMRC).

SMRC stands as a pillar of strength and guidance, supporting refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants in their journey towards a new life. Through its various programs, including the Learning Space and the Friday Sisters’ Circle Program, SMRC empowers newcomers to navigate the complexities of life in Australia, fostering independence, confidence, and a strong sense of belonging.

One such inspiring story is that of Qudsia, a 60-year-old woman from Afghanistan. Arriving in Australia in 2021, Qudsia faced the daunting challenge of adapting to an unfamiliar environment. With determination and the support of SMRC, she embarked on a journey of self-discovery and empowerment.

Through SMRC’s Learning Space program, Qudsia learned to:

  • Read and write

  • Form short sentences

  • Communicate confidently in English.

Her participation in the Sisters’ Circle Program further enriched her experience, providing her with essential life skills and a sense of community.

More Than Just a Physical Space

Reflecting on her journey, Qudsia shares, “Home is somewhere I can be happy and peaceful… SMRC helped me to develop a sense of belonging.” This sentiment resonates deeply with the essence of Refugee Week, a time to acknowledge the struggles and triumphs of refugees and migrants. As SMRC CEO, Rakesh Sharma, emphasizes, “Home is more than just a physical space. It’s a place where you feel safe, you feel connected, and you’re able to realize your dreams and aspirations.”

By spotlighting the achievements of organizations like SMRC and sharing stories of resilience and transformation, we can better understand the value of embracing diversity and the power of community in shaping a harmonious society.