For many of us a change of scenery is sometimes all it takes to boost our spirits and forget about our stresses, but for people seeking asylum, simply getting away for short break can be difficult if not impossible. An opportunity to explore the Victorian coastline has offered a rare chance for connection and community for a group of otherwise highly isolated men.
In light of the government’s recent punitive decisions surrounding the 410 people transferred from Manus and Nauru for medical treatment, the ASRC Dandenong received a number of calls and e-mails from people wanting to offer various types of help, many being accommodation.
Among these calls was a generous offer from a supporter who offered her Inverloch holiday home for the ASRC Dandenong to utilise. Thanks to this opportunity, the team have put together some small trips specifically for people seeking asylum who are particularly isolated within the community.
On 17 October ASRC Dandenong Training Coordinator, Simon Dalton, took the first group of 3 men on an overnight trip to explore the coastline, giving the group reprieve from their struggles and provide a fun, new experience.
“The purpose of the trip is so our members can do something normal like have a holiday, a break away from their normality. It is hoped doing this in a beautiful environment can be a circuit breaker of sorts and help re-charge members who are down – some of whom seldom leave the surrounds of Dandenong.” said Simon.
Making full use of the picturesque scenery, the first day the group enjoyed a delicious BBQ lunch before setting off for a long three hour walk to explore the beach and surrounds. Later the group settled in at the holiday house and relaxed, sharing a meal and playing some games.
Day two was full of sightseeing including Eagles Nest, Cape Patterson beach and Screw Creek inlet, where the group were able to enjoy the water and soak up the sights.
For two in the group, a spontaneous water fight with some locals provided a rare moment of frivolity, and as Simon explains, an invaluable experience.
“They seemed to delight in having this interaction with locals..…this spontaneous interaction really buoyed them and they were smiling at every replay of the moment with them.”
Such a simple exercise would not have been possible without the generous support of the Dandenong community. And with a women’s trip away coming up soon, the Dandenong team are looking forward to bringing light into more lives.
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