Capricornia region could house 500 Syrian refugees
SANDY Djafar knows what it is like to feel unsafe in your own country.
He fled Indonesia all alone as a 15-year-old to escape violence.
Now it's his job to help those in a desperate position seeking refuge and looking for a better life.
Sandy is a registered migration agent with Ozzie Visa Services in Rockhampton and is one of many behind the push to see 500 Syrian refugees resettled to the region.
A meeting yesterday saw the Multicultural Development Association (MDA) meet with Sandy and resident Michael Powell, who represents the Light in the Darkness community group, fighting for refugees to make Central Queensland their new home.
MDA regional development manager Jill Armstrong is pushing for Rockhampton to be considered a destination for refugees.
At the moment the region does not make it on the "preferred destination list" for those who have just arrived in the country.
Jill said this was because people new to the country needed to be in metropolitan areas where services were available.
"MDA does work in Brisbane and Toowoomba though, where newly arrived refugees are placed," she said.
MDA had previously spoken with former Prime Minister Tony Abbott about the issue and is advocating for refugees to be brought here.
"(The government) think people won't be in Australia much before Christmas because there are processes to go through," Jill said.
While 500 people may sound like a large amount to some, Jill said they would not all be placed at once, and to put it into context, there were already more than 1000 asylum seekers and refugees in the community.
She said it was great to see a community group formed and positive opinions voiced on the issue.
"Community support will be a help to get (refugees to the region)," Jill said.
"All sorts of people come from all sorts of countries and that's the great thing about diversity is that it brings all sorts of different people into our community."
Meanwhile, Sandy's work is to support refugees who come into the community with everything from advice to assistance to get their required visas.
"People need to know that not all refugees are what they hear on the news; they are friendly people," he said.
"Diversification will bring us a stronger community."