The Welcome Dinner Project brings together people who are new to Australia with people who are established in their community over dinner in a local home.
The aim of these pot-luck-style dinners is to create a platform for meaningful connection, sparking friendships between people of diverse cultures who are living in close proximity to one another but have not had an opportunity to connect in a supported environment. The project is also encouraging further local collaborative endeavours. It increases social cohesion by involving the broader community in building a welcoming Australian society, one which embraces and celebrates diversity.
There is no cost to attend a dinner. Everyone brings a dish and a local resident generously opens their home to host the dinner. The dinner is organised and facilitated by 2 trained facilitators. In the future, we would like to be able to provide intepreters and transport for members of community who have low English language skills or no access to transport. Any newly arrived member of the community can attend - be they migrants, international students, asylum seekers or even an Australian interstate migrant.
The project has recently launched in Melbourne by a small team of passionate volunteers and so far we have been 'testing the waters' and have run 3 dinners in local homes in the St Kilda and Brunswick. We now have huge demand! Over 250 newly arrived people have signed up to attend a dinner and they come from all over Melbourne. The concept is so simple and easy to participate in and our feedback so far from the dinners so far has been:
'I felt like a visitor before, and now I feel like a local' 'I am not sure what I felt about Melbourne before but now I feel really good about living here' 'It brings me hope' 'I feel renewed!'
The potential to strengthen community through this project is huge and we are very excited.
Funded by Melbourne (April 2015)