SIX Sri Lankan asylum seekers are enjoying a “holiday” in the Bega Valley.
The group has spent over a week in the Valley as part of a brief respite from being in detention in Melbourne.
The six men are in Australia on bridging visas.
They were invited to the local area by the Bega Valley Rural Australians for Refugees for a two-week visit.
On Friday, the asylum seekers enjoyed the opportunity to have a relaxing hit in Bega’s George Griffin Oval cricket nets.
One of the men spoke to the Bega District News about how much he was enjoying his time in the Valley.
“L”, who wished not to be named, said it was nice to try different activities.
“Cricket is a nice change,” he said.
“It’s been good, I like Bega.”
The group is being hosted by families from across the Valley and surrounding areas.
Host John Blunden, of Wandella, said the asylum seekers enjoyed everyday activities such as cricket or fishing.
“It’s a break from their present situation, not to relieve it,” Mr Blunden said.
“It’s a holiday if you like – they get despondent about being in detention.
“They have had a good time so far, they even went fishing for the first time.”
Mr Blunden said the men didn’t wish to talk about their present situation in detention.
“There could be unfortunate memories,” he said.
“They seem to be having a lovely time [here], unlike in detention.”
According to Mr Blunden, the key was to be “treating them more humane”.
“They are human, not criminals,” he said.
“It’s perfectly legal to be a refugee and turn up on our shores.
“They are motivated, highly intelligent young men – it’s been a delight to know them.”
The BVRAR plans on doing a respite home hospitality program again with other ethnic asylum seekers and families in the future.
Anyone interested in being a host should email Hallie Fernandez-Markov or John Blunden at email@example.com.