A Kenyan refugee has been crowned as Australia’s Local Hero for her work helping female migrants combat loneliness and the unknown as they settle into their new communities.
Rosemary Kariuki from Oran Park in NSW has been presented the award at a ceremony in Canberra on Monday evening.
She implored Australians to open their doors to their neighbours and reach out to strangers.
“When I say neighbours I don’t just mean the people living next door, I mean the people around you,” Ms Kariuki said.
“Be open and not scared of any perceived differences because, as humans, we have more similarities than differences.
“We have an amazing opportunity to learn about different cultures and traditions. Not to mention the food, music and dance a bit.”
The 60-year-old fled Kenya by herself in 1999 and found her first few years in Australia incredibly lonely, prompting her to begin an annual dance for African migrant women to combat isolation.
More than 400 women attended the last annual dance, which is now in its 14th year.
Ms Kariuki is also the multicultural community liaison officer for NSW police at the Parramatta station, helping migrants manoeuvre through processes.