Rosemary Kariuki was named the 2021 National Local Hero as part of the Governor-General’s Australia Day Awards. She was one of eight state local heroes in the running to become the national local hero. The Local Hero award was created to recognise extraordinary contributions by Australians within their local community.
Who is Rosemary Kariuki?
Rosemary Kariuki is the multicultural community liaison officer for the Parramatta Police. She specialises in helping migrants who are facing domestic violence, language barriers and financial distress.
In 1999 she fled Kenya on her own to escape family abuse and tribal clashes. She arrived in Sydney and knew no one. The first couple of years in Sydney were incredibly lonely. In fact, not one neighbour said hello to her in her first year living in Sydney.
This made Rosemary aware of the isolation many migrant women experience. Many migrant women have no transport, speak little or no English and some are not used to going out alone. So Rosemary found 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 Acceptance Speech
ITC remembers seeing Rosemary’s acceptance speech and being in awe of everything she has achieved. Rosemary said in her acceptance speech:
“I would love to see more Australians – those born here, refugees, migrants – anyone who calls Australia home open their doors to their neighbours. Get to know them, knock on their door, organise a street barbecue, go for a walk or a picnic.”
You can see Rosemary’s Acceptance Speech in full below.
Rosemary’s Way Documentary
Rosemary’s warmth, courage and kindness inspire all who meet her. Her work was the subject of the documentary ‘Rosemary’s Way’. The tagline for the documentary is “A More Welcoming Australia? If anyone can do it, she can. Laughter is her secret weapon.”
As part of Refugee Week 2021, Lane Cove Council has organised a special event. Hear Rosemary talk about the courage of refugees and the valuable contribution that they make in Australia at a FREE talk, which will be followed by a Q&A session.
Thursday 3 June, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm, Lane Cove Library
Cover Photo Image from https://www.australianoftheyear.org.au/.
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