THE first of 12,000 Syrian asylum seekers the federal government agreed to embrace this week enjoyed an Aussie barbecue hosted by the City of Bayswater.
Six members of the Kujah family moved to Australia in November and now live in Yokine.
Mayor Barry McKenna was called into a special meeting on Monday and asked by federal social services minister Christian Porter to play host to the family on Australia Day.
He says the city was chosen because it’s multicultural — being home to many post-war migrants who relocated in the 1950s — and has just signed up as one of 126 Refugee Council of Australia “refugee welcome zones” across the country.
There are only six other signed WA councils: Fremantle, Katanning, Augusta-Margaret River, Subiaco, Victoria Park and Vincent.
“They a great young family,” Cr McKenna says.
“The mother, Khawlah, was pregnant while they were trying to flee from Syria. I think it was just six or seven days after arriving that she gave birth. You can imagine that while they are so happy to be here, they still have family back in Syria who are going through a lot.”
He understands Khawlah’s husband, Bashar, is looking for work. “I’ve heard he’s looking for work as a butcher and will continue learning English.”
Cr McKenna is keen on making Bayswater more culturally diverse.
“Welcome zones” consist of local governments that are supporting refugees “in spirit”.
Mr Porter says resettling the bulk of the Syrian refugees will take more than a year.
by EMMIE DOWLING