For Good Samaritan Sister, Annette Dever, a parish pastoral worker in WA, asylum seekers have been enriching for the broader community. It’s also had a 'great impact' on her, reports The Good Oil.
Sr Dever has worked in the WA communities of Leonora, Laverton and Leinster since 2003. The outback mining town of Leonora in Western Australia has been a temporary home for asylum seekers. Last month, however, the Federal Government announced that Leonora’s detention centre would close by the end of February.
'Their presence will be part of this town forever. They’re history now; they’ve been here and they’ve been part of this town. They will stay in my heart forever. I’ll pray for them especially, and of course, all other asylum seekers as well,' Annette says, adding that the asylum seekers reminded her of 'the silent neighbour at our door'.
'We don’t know them very well – the silent neighbour – but God is asking us to be aware of them,'she explained.
As a result of overcrowding at the Christmas Island detention facility, asylum seekers first arrived in Leonora in June 2010, where they were accommodated at a former mining camp.
Annette paid tribute to the leadership of Leonora Shire’s CEO and President who set the 'tone for the community' to follow. The interaction of asylum seekers with local people and their participation in community events – accompanied by detention centre staff – was also beneficial.
'They were welcomed at all the community activities… Anything that the town had on, the asylum seekers were always invited. And sometimes they responded and sometimes they didn’t,' she said.
For most of the three-and-a-half years, Leonora housed families from Afghanistan, Iran and Sri Lanka. In the first 18 months, children attended the local school.
FULL STORY Asylum seekers have great impact on Sister (The Good Oil)