An innovative Werribee garden program has been honoured at the Victorian Premier’s Sustainability Awards.
The Working beyond the Boundaries program, which gives refugee communities volunteering and work experience regenerating a historic garden at Werribee Park, won the Environmental Justice award category.
The program, run by settlement agency AMES Australia and Parks Victoria, aims to provide economic, social, physical and mental health benefits to more than 500 refugees and people from culturally diverse communities.
AMES Australia chief executive Cath Scarth said the award was a validation of the hard work put in by everyone working on the program.
“The Working Beyond the Boundaries program is building social cohesion, helping refugees and migrants gain employment and language skills while also connecting them with established members of the local community,” Ms Scarth said.
“It is terrific to see the program recognised for the great outcomes it has achieved; and it’s a great lesson in what can be achieved through partnerships and the goodwill of ordinary people.”
Ms Scarth said case workers reported lower levels of mental health issues among participants since the garden’s inception and many younger members of the communities have secured employment in local market gardens.