Narrabri shire is becoming a multicultural community, welcoming people from around the world.
Last week was Social Inclusion Week, a time to focus on encouraging Australian communities to connect and be inclusive of all cultures, groups, nationalities and abilities.
Narrabri Shire is home to a growing number of residents who have come from other countries for a new life in this district, and they are the focus of a new ‘inclusion group’ with others who may live with a disability or feel excluded or isolated from day to day community life.
On Friday, the shire’s first Social Inclusion Morning Tea was held, aimed at connecting people who may feel isolated or marginalised, whether as newcomers from a different culture, or people with a disability, perhaps jobless, the young, elderly or the homeless.
Narrabri Shire Council formed an Access and Inclusion Committee in March this year, a further development of its Disability Inclusion Action Plan adopted in June 2017.
“The committee is dedicated, passionate and is driven to gain a greater understanding of our shire’s community profile, as well as identifying and addressing barriers to inclusion,” the mayor Cathy Redding said in a welcome to Friday’s gathering.
Australian Bureau of Statistics figures reveal that four percent of Narrabri Shire’s population of 13,078, that is 527 people, was born overseas and the same number come from non English speaking homes.
Twelve percent of the shire population identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, 10 per cent provide unpaid assistance to a person with a disability , 17 per cent are under 24 years of age and 17 per cent are over 65.
Twenty-six percent of shire children are developmentally vulnerable.
“One of the simplest things we can do is reach out to those around us to help people feel included and valued” said the mayor.
“So we started with a morning tea.”
The morning tea featured a smorgasbord of food prepared by attendees from countries ranging from Pakistan to Cambodia, Thailand to India.
Special guests were Eddie and Barbara Witham from Multicultural Tamworth Inc., an organisation which has achieved success in easing the pathway into the local community for many newcomers to that district.
A similar organisation has been created at Gunnedah and Mr Whitham is keen to see a Multicultural Narrabri established.