First Bhutanese consultation in Australia, BCA announced
Melbourne, April 28, 2009: The Bhutanese community resettled in two states of Victoria and New South Wales, Australia held their first consultation gathering at Mirambeena Community Centre, Albury on April 23.
The consultation saw senior Australian officers as participants including Stepan Kerkyasharian, Chairperson, Community Relations Commission (CRC), NSW, George Lekakis, Chairperson, Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC) and Jose Alvarez, State Director, DIAC Victoria.
Representatives from more than 18 agencies at local, state, regional and federal government level, community organisations, educational institutions and services provider along with the Bhutanese community members also joined the consultation gathering.
Parsuram Sharma-Luital from Melbourne provided the brief history about Bhutan, the main cause of refugee origin – the 1985 Citizenship Act; census exercise of 1988, compulsory imposing of dress code (gho and Kira) followed by peaceful demonstration in Bhutan. The participants were also informed series of events after the demonstrations that led to the birth of refugees.
The community members raised issues as requiring a place to worship, desperate desire to follow culture, fears of being deported, citizenship related issues, education, employment and driving problems.
George Lekakis said the community issues will be discussed with the relevant government agencies to address as per the community’s need.
He further said that New and Emerging communities groups will be supported with full dedication by the VMC and government agencies, adding the government will not support financially to build the religious place but will assist to look for a place to practice cultural events and festivals in the community centres or similar places.
Stepan Kerkyasharian, Chairperson CRC said that people need not fear to follow their culture and traditions, and practices religion freely in Australia.
Jose Alvarez, State Director Victoria said that Australian government work closely with UNHCR to while considering resettling refugees in Australia. The priority will be given equally between the protracted refugees’ issues like Bhutanese refugees, and war and internal conflict created refugees in many countries.
He clarified people more then 60 years will automatically get the Australian citizenship after four years in Australia, while persons under 60 years have to sit for a simple test which will be further simplified from October this year.
On the occasion, the gathering of Bhutanese announced the formation of Bhutanese Community in Australia (BCA) and launched its first issue of newsletter “SPECTRUM – First Bhutanese Community Newsletter in Australia. Similarly, first Bhutanese website in Australia was launched: http://bhutanaus.atbhost.net. BCA also announced 11-member executive committee.