Multicultural music to help asylum seekers

FUNDRAISERS: Rural Australians for Refugees Bendigo is hoping to help local asylum seekers with their visa applications. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

FUNDRAISERS: Rural Australians for Refugees Bendigo is hoping to help local asylum seekers with their visa applications. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

Multicultural music will fill the Ulumbarra Theatre on Saturday when a band made up of asylum seekers performs.

The Musical Journeys band celebrates its multiculturalism with voices from around the world including traditional songs from Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Fiji and Pakistan.

Along with traditional performances, there will also be original songs played to enjoy.

Rural Australians for Refugees Bendigo member Alison McClure said the performance idea began as a way of refugees thanking RAR Bendigo members for hosting them at a picnic recently.

“We had about 30 (refugees) enjoy a lovely picnic in White Hills Botanical Gardens as part of a program called Home Among the Gum Trees, where we host people seeking asylum for weekends,” Ms McClure said.

“Some of people who came were members of Musical Journeys and wanted visit again and bring the rest of the band as well. 

“When I met the full band they said they were open to do a performance as fundraiser for local refugees seeking asylum.

“They have been very enthusiastic and it was very moving for me to hear them wanting to help people in Bendigo who are seeking asylum.”

Musical Journeys have previously performed at the Melbourne Arts Centre, Footscray Community Arts Centre, Federation Square and La Mama Theatre.

The performance will follow the Talking Justice event that is on in Ulumbarra during the afternoon.

“When the band offered to perform, at the same time we heard about local people seeking asylum who needed legal assistance. So we started fundraising to help them with their visa applications,” Ms McClure said.

”With Talking Justice on this weekend, we approached them to make a connection and that's how ended in Ulumbarra.”

Ms McClure said refugees were being told to apply for Safe Have Enterprise visas.

“Victoria has just started being able to apply where (refugees) have to go to a regional centre and work or study,” she said.

“People are applying for the visa and coming here but not knowing where to turn because there are no resource centres in Bendigo.

“They need legal assistance for these applications or else they get stuck in the process which can be detrimental to them.

“The Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services have said be prepared for that, so we will have this fund aside for people who realise they need assistance.”

The Musical Journeys performance is on in the Ulumbarra Theatre foyer at 6pm. Entry is by donation.

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