MT HAWTHORN’S Rachelle Rose is one of the first locals to volunteer for The Welcome Dinner Project, which aims to ease refugees and other newcomers into Perth life with a friendly, home-cooked meal.
Guests bring along a dish to share as well, creating a shared multicultural feast.
The project was launched in Sydney in March 2013. Ms Rose says international students and migrants are also invited to her get-together.
“I’m planning to have around 20 people at my place in a month’s time,” the 39-year-old says.
“My house isn’t that big so people will be on bean bags, couches and armchairs and it will be a very informal type of gathering.
“I’m planning to make a chicken in the slow-cooker—everyone has to tell the story behind their dish and mine is about being a busy working mum!”
Dinner founder Penny Elsley says food is a great bonding tool.
“This project was conceived after observing a need for both newly-arrived people and established Australians to find opportunities to meet each other in ways that do not seem tokenistic,” she says.
“We’ve had an international student say, ‘for the first time I feel like I don’t miss my family’.
“One refugee said, ‘this is the first time I feel free in this country’. It’s just a dinner, but it means a lot to people.”
The project’s debut welcome dinner—not Ms Rose’s—will be at the Herb Graham Recreation Centre in Mirrabooka on March 14.
To volunteer visit http://www.joiningthedots.org
by STEPHEN POLLOCK