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Stories of #GoodChange

August 2023

Our Focus on Multicultural Minorities

I lost my possessions, my salary, my status, my career, my country. And in that fall, I gained everything.

Australia is one of the most multicultural countries in the world, with over 300 ethnic groups calling this country of just 25 million people their home.

Amongst these culturally and linguistically diverse communities, Good Neighbours Australia has identified a handful of minority communities that are at risk of becoming isolated and marginalised because of language, culture, and other barriers they encounter, especially when first settling in Australia.

Our local multicultural community development projects have focused on supporting these minorities with health and welfare initiatives during the COVID pandemic, overcoming social isolation through creative arts events and activities, and delivering food and clothing hampers to those most in need.

“Recently arrived refugees are high on our priority list, including those from Ukraine, Myanmar, Bhutan, and Nepal”, said Sylvia Lee, Executive Director of Good Neighbours Australia. “We work hand-in-hand with the leaders of these communities, developing appropriate and culturally sensitive support, as they need”, she said.

Om's Story

One such community leader is Om Dhungel, who fled Bhutan as a refugee before eventually settling into the multicultural community of Blacktown in Sydney, Australia.

Om grew up in a humble remote village in Southern Bhutan. Through his perseverance, in 1991, Om served as the head of a division of Bhutan’s Department of Telecommunications, one of the youngest in the government at the time. However, when the government of Bhutan began to see its citizens with Nepali ancestry as a threat, Om was forced to flee his homeland.

From being a man of influence to a refugee, Om spent six years as a refugee in Nepal before finding refuge in Australia, rebuilding his life and family in Blacktown.

Today, he is an award-winning community leader, playing a pivotal role in helping thousands of Bhutanese and other refugees build successful new lives in the country.

Om Dhungel_front cover
(Photo courtesy of NewSouth Publishing)

Om’s life story, as recounted in his recently published book “Bhutan to Blacktown” co-authored by journalist James Button, is a testament to the strength of the human spirit.

Om’s story illustrates how one man’s life was transformed through perseverance and determination. From losing nearly everything to gaining a new life filled with purpose, Om’s journey reminds us of the power of resilience.

“We cannot control what happens to us in life but we can always choose how we respond to it,” said Om.

We Congratulate Om!

“We celebrate the launch of Om’s book, which connects us to the stories and lived experiences of families forced to flee their homelands and start over in a foreign land”, said Sylvia.

“His generosity in sharing his journey, insights borne of personal hardship and triumphs over adversity will help guide our approach to supporting refugees and anyone who finds themselves a foreigner in a new country having to start over again,” said Sylvia.

As we reflect on Om’s journey and countless others like him, we acknowledge the power of compassion, unity, and the hand of friendship extended by communities of good neighbours around the world.

Om Dhungel
(Photo courtesy of NewSouth Publishing)

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