PAPUANA Motte came to Australia as an asylum seeker in 2006.
She left her family and friends behind in West Papua and travelled to Australia in a traditional canoe along with more than 40 other people.
Papuana was just 16.
The 23-year-old now lives in Melbourne and is an Act for Peace refugee ambassador.
“I’m still missing my home and my family and everyone over there,” Papuana said.
“But if you are here you are still alive. Over there killings are still going on.”
Papuana spoke at the recent Refugee Sunday event in Bendigo.
The initiative was organised by the Anglican Parish of Kangaroo Flat and Act for Peace.
“I spoke about how I came to Australia and why I came to Australia,” she said.
“What’s going on in our country is that we’re still suffering from human rights issues and injustice.
“We’re still fighting for our freedom from the Indonesian government.
“Human rights abuse is ongoing from the past 51 years until now.” Papuana said the Australian government’s stance on asylum seekers was harsh.
“They’re just human beings and the government doesn’t see it that way,” she said.
“It’s really hard for anyone to come here.”
The Reverend Bryn Jones said the Refugee Sunday event was designed to celebrate cultural diversity, embrace hospitality and highlight the challenges faced by refugees and asylum seekers.
“What we want to do is celebrate the diversity that having a refugee population brings, not so much focusing on the politics, but on the richness and diversity of having a multicultural society,” he said.
“We do it in conjunction with a group in Melbourne called Act for Peace who are involved in refugee and migrant advocacy.”