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Starting over in Knox

Imagine for a moment what it might be like to arrive in a foreign country, where you don’t speak the language or understand the culture, and try to start a new life. It’s a reality faced by many migrants and refugees. 

Young refugee Parisa was born in Tehran, Iran. She and her family are Baha’i, Iran’s largest non-Muslim religious minority.  

In Australia, we are fortunate to have the choice to practice a religion or not. Because of their faith, the Baha’i community in Iran face many human rights violations including imprisonment, violence and harassment, exclusion and economic pressures. Being Baha’i makes life difficult in Iran for education, work and even just for living.  

Parisa’s family left Iran in search of a better life, migrating to Turkey and then on to Australia. She recalls how difficult it was for her family when they first arrived in Australia. 

“It was a stressful time, but we were so excited and happy to have arrived in Australia.” 

It certainly isn’t easy to start over so support services such as the Migrant Information Centre (Eastern Melbourne) play a vital role in a migrant’s journey to resettlement. Since 1999, the service has been assisting individuals, families and communities residing in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne to understand Australian life, integrate into a multicultural community and access services.  

“Our family is connected to the Migrant Information Centre where we have support of a woman who helps us with any questions we have from learning how to adapt to a new culture, to finding swimming lessons.” 

Parisa is studying English at Swinburne Wantirna and Health Services at Victoria University and hopes to become a nurse one day.  

“Knox is one of the best parts of Melbourne. It’s nice, it’s quiet and it’s full of friendly people, friendly neighbours. I love this area.”  

The City of Knox is proud to be a Refugee Welcome Zone and we promise to:  

  • welcome all refugees as part of the community 
  • uphold the human rights of all refugees 
  • show compassion for all refugees 
  • embrace all cultural and religious diversity 

20 – 26 June 2021 marks Refugee Week, a time that we can all reflect on the challenges that refugees face in their journey and how we can help them to settle into their new life in Australia. 

Actions as simple as a smile and a wave or having a friendly chat can make all the difference for refugees like Parisa. 


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