Rosemary is Australia’s Local Hero

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Oran Park’s Rosemary Kariuki has been named the 2021 Australia’s Local Hero at the recent Australian of the Year Awards held in Canberra.

60-year-old Rosemary is an advocate for migrant and refugee women. She is the multicultural community liaison officer for the Parramatta Police and specialises in helping migrants who are facing domestic violence, language barriers and financial distress.

Fleeing Kenya alone in 1999 to escape family abuse and tribal clashes, her early years in Australia were terribly lonely. Her experience helped Rosemary recognise that isolation is a huge issue for many migrant women. Many aren’t used to going out alone, have no transport and speak little or no English. So, Rosemary devised ways to help women leave their house and meet women in similar circumstances.

In partnership with the African Women’s Group, she helped start the African Women’s Dinner Dance. Now in its 14th year, more than 400 women attend the annual event. She also started the African Village Market – a program to help migrants and refugees start their own businesses – which ran for four years. Rosemary’s warmth, courage and kindness inspire all who meet her. Her work was the subject of the documentary ‘Rosemary’s Way’.

Chair of the National Australia Day Council, Danielle Roche OAM, congratulated the 2021 Australian of the Year Award recipients.

“Grace, Miriam-Rose, Isobel and Rosemary are all committed to changing attitudes in our society and changing lives” Ms Roche said.

“They are strong, determined women who are dedicated to breaking down barriers and advocating for people’s rights – particularly the rights of women and children.

“They epitomise the Australian values of respect, tolerance, equality of opportunity and compassion. Because of them, others get a fair go”.

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