Refugee experts will speak at a Cobden forum on the possibility of resettling Syrian refugee families in the district.
Representatives from refugee resettlement organisation AMES and Geelong-based group Diversitat will share their knowledge and Nhill’s John and Margaret Millington will provide their first-hand perspective of settling Burmese Karen refugees in their town.
The April 4 forum, an initiative of Progressing Cobden, comes after a public meeting in December that discussed resettling refugee families in the town, citing humanitarian benefits and a boost to the region’s declining population.
Progressing Cobden leadership group member Kelvin White said the meeting would also give members of the public a chance to share their views.
“It’s not a forum for argument and dissension, more for fact-finding and listening to the views of people who have actually been involved in what’s being proposed,” he said.
“Hopefully, everyone will leave with more information and more knowledge of any likely situation. Again, no finite decisions will be made on the night.
“Progressing Cobden is taking an impartial stance on the issue.”
The community group is hosting the discussion on the issue after the idea was first put forward in a letter from member Harry Timmermans.
“In the first place, Harry’s letter was proposing 50 to 100 families which he has subsequently dismissed as being ‘out-of-the-question’,” Mr White said.
“As far as Progressing Cobden is concerned, these types of issues demand good process and plenty of opportunity for all the community to have input.
“If the process is right, you’ll generally get the right decision – because it will be supported or not supported, whatever the case.”
Mr White said the experts would be able to provide accurate facts and figures on the issue to help the town better discuss the issue.
The December community meeting attracted about 40 people and Mr White said it heard from a variety of opinions for and against the idea of refugee resettlement in the region.
The public meeting will be held at the Cobden Civic Hall’s supper room at 7pm on Monday, April 4.