THE BURMESE GARDEN

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Most people are excited when they get a new job, and this was certainly true for Alexander who had been experiencing difficulties obtaining employment since arriving here in Werribee, coming from a refugee camp on the Thai border. Alexander was one of the first participants to join a new social enterprise, called the Burmese Garden, that supports refugee participants to gain employment, and he and his family couldn’t be happier with this latest development.

With one participant graduating after only 6 weeks has been a great outcome for the enterprise that will continue to recruit, train and support refugees into employment. James Dredge, Community Development Officer at Wyndham Park Community Centre said ‘the effect that this will have his wife and three children is tremendous.’

The Burmese Garden is a relatively new social enterprise, commencing July this year, and is run by Wyndham Park Community Centre. The enterprise provides gardening skills and small business training to Burmese, Chin and Karen refugees. The gardening services on offer include: mowing, weeding, pruning, rubbish removal, and landscaping. The Burmese Garden support team includes a Team Leader and two to three participants who receive training and are recruited from the refugee families attending the Wyndham Park Primary School.

The Team involved in the Burmese Garden have completed landscaping works at the Wyndham Park Primary School, Wyndham Park Community Shed and many private jobs. The garden team are available to do private or commercial work, large or small jobs, and the rates are very reasonable, with 3 workers available to provide a service at $55 an hour or to mow the average sized lawn for around $35.

Karen refugees have often encountered difficulties when settled in urban locations as they are traditionally from agrarian and village-based communities. Ethnic minority communities who have experienced persecution for decades can also experience detrimental health problem when accompanied by isolation, unemployment and little income. The work provided through the Burmese Garden social enterprise draws on the strengths of this community who have a long history as gardeners and cultivators and directly provides employment and learning opportunities to help expand local economies. The project also builds on experience about what really works in changing the circumstances of disadvantaged communities.

 The Burmese Garden team is available for work and can be contacted through the Team Leader, Jacob on 0406 678 730 or the Community Development Officer, James on 8742 6448 or 0406 667 053 or email james@wyndhamparkcc.com.au

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