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New arrivals from Afghanistan Welcomed to Bondi Beach

By Nicola Smith on January 24, 2022 in News

Image: Waverley Council

Recently arrived Afghan refugees have been welcomed by Waverley Council with a picnic day at Bondi Beach in partnership with Settlement Services International’s Welcome Project.

Waverley Council is committed to supporting a diverse range of people in the community through its 2021 Cultural Diversity Strategy and its role as a Refugee Welcome Zone and part of the Welcoming Cities network.

After the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021, the Australian government allocated 3,000 visas to Afghans fleeing Taliban rule.

Waverley Council General Manager Emily Scott shared this vision for an inclusive Waverley at the welcome picnic.

“Our vision for cultural diversity and inclusion in Waverley is a welcoming, cohesive, and resilient community where people of all cultural backgrounds can belong and participate in Waverley’s social, cultural, economic and civic life,” she said.

Ms Scott also explained that she hoped the time at Bondi Beach would be a first-rate introduction to Australian culture.

“I hope this first visit to Bondi Beach will be a wonderful experience for everyone today, and that we can highlight some of the great things about this country, including our Indigenous and beach culture,” Ms Scott said.

The picnic included a water safety talk from Bondi lifeguards Bruce “Hoppo” Hopkins and Trent Falson along with a local history walk with Bondi resident and Council officer Lawrie Williams. Uniting Iluka Early Learning, located in Bondi Beach hosted activities for the children as well.

Settlement Services International, the Council’s partner in the picnic, seeks to welcome refugees by linking them with Welcome Ambassadors, who are established, local residents.

Kat O’Neill, Community Engagement Manager at Settlement Services International, said the Welcome Project nurtured a sense of community connection for newcomers to Australia.

“The Welcome Ambassadors support newcomers to feel more connected to their community through exploring different sites and activities. Visiting the iconic Bondi Beach is a great opportunity to introduce a significant part of Australian culture to recent arrivals who may not have yet travelled to this part of our beautiful city,” Ms O’Neill said.

Waverley Council’s new Cultural Diversity Strategy highlights the importance of engaging in opportunities to partner with organisations like Settlement Services International to welcome newcomers to the Waverley area.

It also identifies building community cohesion, increasing opportunities to learn from Indigenous cultures and taking a strong stance against racism as priorities for Waverley going forward.

Ms Scott said she felt Bondi Beach was an icon that a diverse Australian society could enjoy and that beach culture brings Australians together.

“The beach plays a big part in our cultural and social identity. In Australia, the beach is the great equalizer…That is why we are delighted to be giving our visitors a taste of beach culture today,” Ms Scott said.