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By Cam Lucadou-Wells

A smorgasbord of the world’s foods is expected to be shared among friendly company at Casey’s first Welcome Dinner.
Its aim is to bring together up to 100 newly-arrived and established residents for a meal.
They will bring a plate from their own culture, tell the table about its story and in essence, break bread at the community dinner.
“This is a great way to connect people and break through cultural, social and other barriers, through something we all have in common – food,” the project’s state co-ordinator Rachel Clark said.
“It’s a way of changing the conversation around people who are newly arrived in Australia.
“It’s simple and incredibly effective.”
A chat over a shared meal can transcend political debate around asylum seekers. It moves on from the issue of “how they came here”.
“We all come to a situation with our assumptions,” Ms Clark said.
“What occurs when we sit down and share a meal together, those assumptions are often challenged in a very positive and safe way.”
With the help of facilitators, the dinner-talk is guided into learning more about each other, such as passions.
“We encourage our guests not to talk about the same old things, like what do you do for a living?
“We want people to connect on a common, universal level.”
Successful dinners had been previously held in Melbourne’s west and north. The diverse cities of Greater Dandenong and Casey were an obvious next-stop, Ms Clark said.
Organisers hope the dinners will kick-start into more, with volunteers perhaps to stage events in their homes as well as in trusted public spaces.
“We want people to come away from the dinners feeling warm, welcomed and a part of something,” Ms Clark said.
“We want them to be empowered to be part of the change they want to see in the world.”
The dinner will be at Narre Warren South P-12 College on 4 August, 6-8.30pm.
To register for a ticket, go to eventbrite.com.au/e/casey-community-welcome-dinner-tickets-35373204206

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