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12 February 2020
By DEAN LAWSON
Organisers of a second multi-cultural experience and celebration in Horsham are calling for people to help billet up to about 100 migrants from Melbourne during the event.
A Heartland Horsham committee has organised an information session for prospective host families at Centre for Participation’s Horsham headquarters on Tuesday. The session will be between 5.30pm and 7pm.
This year’s Heartland Horsham festival, a promotion of Horsham and the Wimmera as a potential destination for migrant families and anchored around a Landcare tree-planting event, will be on May 15, 16 and 17.
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The fledgling festival made its first appearance last year and involved a busload of migrants mixing with Horsham district families in various activities as well as planting trees.
Organisers have identified a multicultural celebration of food at Maydale Reserve in Horsham Showground on the Sunday of the festival as a primary area of growth for the event.
Centre for Participation program and community development manager Robbie Millar said the February 18 information session would involve discussions about expectations surrounding hosting visitors.
“Last year we about 20 host families and at this stage we would be looking for at least that number again. But if we have a second busload, which could well happen, the number would be closer to 40,” he said.
“We’re basically calling for anyone who might be interested in opening their houses to visiting migrant individuals or families coming up to find out more about it. We don’t just randomly pick people to stay somewhere. We make sure they are matched appropriately.”
Mr Millar said a major driver for Heartland Horsham was promoting the benefits of living in Horsham and the Wimmera to migrants living in metropolitan areas.
“It is also designed to stimulate socio-economic and cultural development in the region,” he said.
“We want to be able to provide them with an opportunity to experience living in a country centre, to see what services, schools and so on are available, and to give them a taste of what it might be like to live in the country.”
Horsham councillor Pam Clarke billeted five people during an inaugural Heartlands Horsham last year, and said volunteering to open a home to the visitors was well worth the commitment.
“Four of the people were from Vietnam and one was a monk, so it was fascinating as well as an enjoyable experience and we’ve since kept in contact with them and visited them in Footscray,” she said.
“It’s a two-way street. The visitors gain a great deal from the experience and so do you. Last year when we reached the end of the weekend we thought, ‘wow, that was fantastic’.
“I encourage everyone to get behind it because there is much to gain. There are wins all round, from the community with social and cultural enrichment to the environment with the tree planting.”
Mr Millar said a tree-planting site this year would be in riparian country east of Horsham.
“The weekend winds up with the food extravaganza which showcases a variety of foods from around the world. The food festival is free of charge to the public and as well as a perfect bookend to the weekend, offers plenty of growth opportunities,” he said.
Centre for Participation is working with Wimmera Development Association, Wimmera Catchment Management Authority, Landcare, ACE Radio through The Weekly Advertiser and radio stations 3WM and MIXX FM and Wimmera Agricultural Society in presenting Heartland Horsham.
The entire February 12, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!