Refugee garden program wins Premier’s Sustainability Award
An innovative garden program that provides economic, social, physical and mental health benefits to local refugees and culturally diverse communities has been honoured at the 2019 Victorian Premier’s Sustainability Awards.
The ‘Working beyond the Boundaries’ program, which gives refugee communities volunteering and work experience opportunities while also regenerating an historic garden at Werribee, won the Environmental Justice award category.
A partnership between migrant and settlement agency AMES Australia and Parks Victoria, the program has seen more than 500 refugees benefit from their involvement.
Case workers report lower levels of mental health issues among refugees since the garden’s inception and many younger members of the communities have secured employment in local market gardens as a result of their volunteer work experience.
At the annual Awards’ ceremony in Melbourne, the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, the Hon Lily D’Ambrosio presented AMES Community Liaison Officer Nanthu Kunoo with the award along with Werribee Park Chief Ranger James Brincat and his team.
AMES Australia CEO Cath Scarth said the award was a validation of the hard work put in by everyone working on the program.
“The ‘Working Beyond the Boundaries’ program is building social cohesion, helping refugees and migrants gain employment and language skills while also connecting them with established members of the local community,” Ms Scarth said.
“It is terrific to see the program recognised for the great outcomes it has achieved; and it’s a great lesson in what can be achieved through partnerships and the good will of ordinary people,” she said.
Sustainability Victoria’s interim Chief Executive, Carl Muller, said the awards showed how management of environmental issues was of growing importance for all Victorians – no matter age, no matter where they live or what they do.
“Each year, the Premier’s Sustainability Awards continue to discover Victoria’s best and most inspiring Victorian individuals, organisations and businesses who are developing and implementing new sustainable practices,” he said.