Our organisation and families in the news

Yazidi women, Diyana Gundor, was persecuted in her homeland of Iraq..eventually finding safety in Australia.

Now, two years after arriving in Wagga, english lessons have allowed her to thrive.. integrating into the community and selling her ever popular flatbread...

Candle light Vigil WIN NEWS

Hundreds of candles have been lit and flowers laid in Wagga's Victory Memorial Gardens in the wake of the tragic events in Christchurch.

In a display of solidarity, people from all walks of life have come together to show the city's Muslim community support and love.

Daily Advertiser, 18th March 2019

Daily Advertiser, 18th March 2019


Wagga's Candlelight Night Vigil for Christchurch victims sees hundreds gather in Victory Memorial Garden

MARCH 18 2019 - 9:00AM, Annie Lewis


More than 400 people gathered in the Victory Memorial Garden's to mourn those lost in the Christchurch terrorist attack and show support for Wagga's own Muslim community. 

On Friday, two gunmen opened fire at two central Christchurch mosques, Al Noor and Linwood, killing more than 40 people. 

Muslims and non-Muslims alike gathered on Sunday in Wagga to honour the lives lost and show acts of terrorism have no place in any community. 

Dr Ata Ur Rehman said he had been sent the video of the massacre and could not believe what he was seeing.

"If this attack proves anything, it is that terrorism has no religion," he said. 


"It makes me even more distressed to realise the person who committed this act was an Australian.

"Despite the anti-Muslim sentiments being spread on social media, we will continue to stand as proud Australians." 

Dr Rehman said he had been overwhelmed by the support shown by people from all works of life. 

"A special thanks to the Wagga Police for making sure our places of worship are safe," he said. 

Dr Rehman said an event such as the tragedy in Christchurch shows the dangers of social media.

"We need to work together to remove extreme hate, whether right-wing or ISIS, from social media," he said. 

Azizeh Abbasi said learning about the horrific deaths of her fellow Muslims in New Zealand was heartbreaking. 

"The important thing is to have peace and in my opinion, it doesn't matter what religion you are," she said. 

"Islamophobia was the centre of the attack but in reality, we think everyone should be treated the same. 

"It is so beautiful to see so many people who are gathering in support." 

Ms Abbasi has been living in Wagga for 18 months after fleeing from Afghanistan to Iran and reminds the community, this is not the first time Muslims have been targeted.

"In my country, there is a war every day and many Muslim people are being killed by the Taliban and ISIS," she said. 

Mariam Rehman, a Wagga Muslim, said she was fearful and had not slept properly since news of the massacre emerged.


"When I saw the turnout, my emotions changed because support is not only holding a candle, it means they're saying 'we are your fellow Australians'," she said.

"It hits so close to home when you find out the attacker was Australian and it's your neighbours.

"Before this, I would ignore racism but it is our role to stand up against violence and it shouldn't take more than 40 lives for us to realise what discrimination is."

Mostafa Eslampanah recently escaped Afghanistan and has been living in Wagga for two months. 

"Hearing about what happened, it is upsetting and I hope to never see something like this happen again," he said. 

"One of the best things about Wagga is seeing the people come together now." 

Saira Ali said it was heartbreaking to learn of the lives lost, but the candlelight vigil provided emotional support.

"It is a dark time, but it is good to see so many people here," she said. 

"To my fellow Muslims, we are with you and we pray for you and for all of humanity, not only Muslims, to be protected." 


Kylie Anderson attended the vigil along with her children in a show of support for their friends. 

"We have Muslim friends in our community and we are to support them and New Zealand and to show respect," she said.

"It is so important to show that we are all one community.

"As the kids wrote on their signs, everyone one is equal and we need more love instead of hate." 

Riverina Police District Inspector Adrian Telfer said they attended the vigil and were working closely with the Muslim community to ensure they felt safe. 

Belinda Crain, CEO of the Multicultural Community, said it was beautiful to see so many people attend the candlelight vigil. 

Multicultural gathering celebrates International Women's Day

Jody Lindbeck

Women from around the world have come together in Wagga to celebrate International Women's Day.

There were women from the Yazhidi community, from Burundi, Zimbabwe, South Sudan, Afghanistan and Nepal along with many others who call this city home at an event organised by the Wagga Women's Health Centre and the Wagga Multi-Cultural Council.

The day-long event included art, craft, music, interactive activities, lucky door prizes, children's activities and a massive, community-wide shared lunch of multi-cultural cuisine, including a sausage sizzle.

"The theme for International Women’s Day 2019 is Balance for Better," Julie Mecham from the Wagga Women's Health Centre.

"This theme is a call to action to strive for gender balance throughout the world, to support women's advancement and to openly celebrate our achievements, not only on International Women’s Day, but all throughout the year."


Women of Wagga speak out on gender equality

For Lucy Zatang, who is originally from Myanmar, International Women's Day is a chance to reflect.

Ms Zatang spent seven years in Malaysia as a refugee  - and her husband nearer 10 years - before being able to resettle in Australia.

The couple, who have four young children, came immediately to Wagga after arriving in Australia.

Ms Zatang said one of the joys for her was the range of activities open to her two sons and two daughters here.

"We are free and happy and healthy. Wagga is clean and quiet. There are beautiful people here, who smile at young on the street," she said.

"There are lots of different activities and places to go."

International Women's Day has been celebrated for more than a century.

The first gathering in central Europe in 1911 was supported by more than a million people.

International Womens Day 2019 Celebration

Wagga's Yazidi community protest horrific execution of 50 women

STANDING UP: Haji Gundor, Rashed Shani Baqi and Aras Kano are helping to organise the protest saying 'enough is enough'. Picture: Annie Lewis

STANDING UP: Haji Gundor, Rashed Shani Baqi and Aras Kano are helping to organise the protest saying 'enough is enough'. Picture: Annie Lewis

Wagga's Yazidi community are standing up and readying for a peaceful protest to cry out against the horrific execution of 50 women in Syria. Rashed Shani Baqi said soldiers discovered the bodies last week when they gained access to Baghuz, where ISIS is desperately clinging to their territory. "Women are captured as slaves and raped," he said. "Soldiers surrounded ISIS in a small area and they were told if any ISIS were killed then the Yazidi slaves would be murdered. "Last week, 50 women were found executed with their heads cut off." Haji Gundor said horrific events continue to happen to the Yazidi community and the young children left in Iraq and Syria are being brought up as child soldiers for ISIS with no knowledge of their culture. "It is really hard to see this," he said."Not only do we feel the pain of who losing who has already been killed, but now it is even more painful."One boy, interviewed by an overseas journalist, remembers nothing after his parents were killed and he was trained to kill." Mr Shani Baqi and Mr Gundor both said they couldn't understand why no one was reaching out to help the Yazidi."We want to the government to try and save the women and children who are still in captivity," Mr Shani Baqi said. 

"After five years of war, everyone knows the Yazidi are in captivity and are being sold, used and killed." This is not the first time the Yazidi community have been targeted by ISIS. Mr Gundor said ISIS attacked Shingal, Iraq murdering more than 5000 people on August 3, 2014, and this is only one of 74 genocides. "We are a peaceful people and our women, men and children are being killed," he said. "If something is not done, this religion is going to end." Mr Shani Baqi and Mr Gundor are pleading for international aid for those left behind. "If the world does not move, then I think we will lose all of them," Mr Shani Baqi said. "There are thousands of stories of suffering, but we are choosing to focus on this one for now."CEO of the Multicultural Council, Belinda Crain, said the council was supporting the Yazidi community and encouraged Wagga's residents to come down and show their support. 

Yazidis in Australia: waiting for justice

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Smith Family's Learning for Life program and Multicultural Council partnership helps Wagga children
JANUARY 31 2019 - 5:00PM - Annie Lewis, Daily Advertiser

"I think AFL is the best sport I've ever had," says 11-year-old Rozaliya Hasan. She's one of the students in an Aussie Rules Football program in the Riverina that's been helping refugee children feel more included in the community. 🏃🏃‍♀️
Read more:
AFL Riverina @multiculturalcouncilwaggawagga

IEAA explore the link

Refugee kids shine in Wagga Wagga schools

ABC Riverina Common Thread

2018 NSW International Student of the Year Awards - Higher Education Winner

SBS: Wagga Wagga home to Australia's first Yazidi burial site

SBS Kurdish radio

SBS kurdish Pêkanîna yekem goristana Êzîdî

Land allocated for Yazidi Community in Wagga Wagga Monumental Cemetery

Prime TV moving Ceremony 4th anniversary of Yazidi Genocide

Win News- Wagga Goal Umpire Basil Shani Baqi- AFL Umpire Diversity Talent Camp

Prime 7 News:20/06/18-World Refugee Day

Wagga's Multicultural Council sets up the Refugee Youth Mentoring Program

The Daily Advertiser: 21/5/18 - Read article

Refugees wanted: NSW country town Walla Walla looks overseas to fill employment gaps

ABC News: 21/5/18 - Read article

Wagga’s Burmese residents plea for international intervention in Kachin

The Daily Advertiser: 9/5/18 - Read article

Wagga's Yazidi community celebrates the New Year

The Daily Advertiser: 18/4/18 - Read article

Multicultural Council’s Common Threads provides an opportunities for refugees to learn new skills

The Daily Advertiser: 28/3/18 - Read article

Woman 2 Woman conference set to help Wagga celebrate International Women's Day

The Daily Advertiser: 2/3/18 - Read article

yazidi refugee teacher

Learning to Swim - ABC Local News


NSW Government helps Wagga Wagga refugees smile

Refugees can face challenges adjusting to a new life in regional NSW. A group of professionals in Wagga Wagga are determined to make sure that health will not be one of them.

View video

New Year Celebration: April 2017

Yazidi refugees rejoice in first New Year in Australia

The Australian: 19/4/17 - View article

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton visits Wagga for Yazidi new year with refugees

The Daily Advertiser: 20/04/17 - View article

Wagga's Yazidi community marks New Year

SBS Radio: 19/04/17 - Listen to audio 

Yazidi New Year: Immigration Minister Peter Dutton tells refugees of work to increase Syrian intake

ABC Online: 20/04/17 - Read article

Australia's Yazidi community to celebrate new year in Wagga

Riverina Leader: 17/04/17 – Read article

Yazidi Celebration - Hundreds of Yazidi refugees gathered in Wagga today to celebrate their new year.

Facebook – WIN news - Watch video

Immigration minister visits Wagga

Triple M Riverina - Read article 

Angela Aseka

Ashmont child will soon be banished from the country with her Kenyan mum

The Daily Advertiser: 1/4/17 - Read article

Angela Aseka to be deported from Australia after 14 years

The Daily Advertiser: 5/4/17 - Read article

Peter Dutton back deportation of Australian-born child

The Border Mail: 6/4/17 - Read article

Kenyan mother thankful for support in immigration row

The Daily Advertiser: 9/4/17 - Read article

Fresh calls for Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to intervene in 'outrageous' deportation

The Daily Advertiser: 18/4/17 - Read article