Our newest Paul Harris Fellow Belinda Crain, is pictured here with President Richard Baguley and former refugee and Australian Citizen, Hung Kee.
Belinda Crain got the surprise of her life when she was awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship for her great work as the CEO of the Multicultural Council of Wagga. Belinda is no stranger to awards as she was awarded the 2021 title of Citizen of the Year.
Prior to the granting of the award by President Richard, Belinda had given us a very comprehensive insight into the refugee community of Wagga.
Belinda began working with the Multicultural Council in 2008 after running Youth Services for the Wagga City Council. She is trained Social Worker as well as a nurse.
In 2005, Wagga was designated as a refugee resettlement city. There are now families from 14 African nations including from South Sudan and Burundi.
Of course Wagga has a long history of taking in refugees from post WW11 with an influx of Dutch, Italians, Baltic States, East Europeans and then Vietnamese in the 70's and now from Africa, Burma, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Tibet. In 2016 a big influx  of Yazidis arrived. There are now 1,500 Yazidis living in Wagga. They are a minority religious group from Iraq who were victims of genocide by ISIS. Seventy families have purchased their own home.
The Multicultural Council provides a range of services including: different pathways to residency; a health clinic; Dental and Pathology; a nurse led practice.
Belinda paid special tribute to Dr Geraldine Duncan who works with all the refugees arriving in Wagga.
The MCC also runs an employment pathways program for young people in social housing. It adopts a personal tailored style and has a target of getting at least 50 into work per year. This year 75 were placed in work.
Most refugees settle well and become loyal citizens of Wagga. Many have started new businesses e.g. Tibetan Tasty Treats, Two Barber Shops, and Asian Burmese Shop. The broader community is very accepting of the refugees especially when they see how hardworking and keen to succeed they are. A number of businesses, including Flip Screen, Viewco Glass, Coles have excellent employees and this in turn persuades others to offer employment.
The MCC is funded through Federal, State and Local Government Grants.
Belinda's talk was very well received and appreciated by members who were clearly impressed by her work and the positive contribution our new citizens are making to our community.
John Egan, who introduced Belinda also offered a vote of thanks which was supported by all members.