Goodwill makes for a smooth move

by article by Andra Jackson
(Age Newspaper- Melbourne Australia May 31, 2008)

Zimbabwe refugee, barrister Wilbert Mapombere, & Narelle Hibberd, exec officer -Ballarat Migration Project. Photo: Angela Wylie

Zimbabwe refugee, barrister Wilbert Mapombere, & Narelle Hibberd, exec officer -Ballarat Migration Project. Photo: Angela Wylie

LAST summer, Zimbabwe refugee Wilbert Mapombere and his family had their first holiday Australian-style when they shared a caravan with a Ballarat family.

The Anglesea holiday invitation grew out of a friendship that developed between Mr Mapombere and Narelle Hibberd, after he moved to Ballarat in 2006.

A barrister and solicitor, he found it impossible to gain a foothold in the profession in Melbourne. Since relocating to Ballarat, he hasn't looked back, thanks to a welcoming hand from people such as Ms Hibberd, executive officer of the Ballarat Migration Project.

They met when he applied to be a voluntary multicultural ambassador. During his public-speaking training, a friendship grew and "we included him in our family activities", Ms Hibberd said.

Now Mr Mapombere has his own "small, struggling practice" and last December could afford to bring out his wife and son, with three other children.

The outgoing Mr Mapombere has immersed himself in both the established and newer community, becoming a member of Rotary and establishing the 600-member Ballarat African Association.

He is one of the increasing number of refugees appearing in regional and rural Victoria.

According to the report, Refugee Resettlement in Regional and Rural Victoria: Impacts and Policy Issues, this springs from formal programs to attract refugees from Melbourne. Others are escaping the racist violence, drug abuse and youth peer-group pressures they see as part of urban life, the report says.

Released today, it was prepared by VicHealth in collaboration with organisations such as Melbourne University and the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture.

The report stresses that conditions for a smooth resettlement include planning, employment opportunities, goodwill within the host community and support from local service organisations.

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