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2019 Winner - Environmental Justice

AMES Australia and Parks Victoria

Working Beyond the Boundaries

Migrant and refugee settlement agency AMES Australia has partnered with Parks Victoria to regenerate an historic, dormant garden at Werribee Mansion in Melbourne's west through a program that provides economic, social, physical and mental health benefits to local culturally diverse communities.

To date, the 'Working Beyond the Boundaries' program has assisted more than 500 refugees, many of whom come from war and conflict zones.

Case workers report lower levels of mental health issues among refugees since the garden’s inception and many younger members of the communities have secured employment in local market gardens as a result of their volunteer work experience.

One particularly affected group is the Karen community, an agrarian people who have had difficulty adapting to life in Wyndham – one of Australia's fastest growing urban centres.

A group of volunteers from local refugee and migrant communities has also helped transform the garden to become an outlet for participants to meet other people from the community. The sound of laughter and happy conversation has become a musical soundtrack in the garden.

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Environmental Justice finalists 2019