‘I’m a Local…’ Negotiating Belonging with Former Refugees in Regional Australia through Inclusive Partnerships

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Leticia Claire Anderson
Rob Cumings
Kathomi Gatwiri


This article discusses the impact and implications of ‘I’m a Local…’, an initiative developed in partnership between a regional university, a refugee resettlement community organisation and former refugees from African nations in a regional Australian community. The initiative sought to improve understandings about refugees, acknowledge their contributions to Australian society and support local, inclusive cultures. It included the development of public resources exploring the process of former refugees in establishing a sense of belonging and becoming ‘locals’. Racialised ‘Others’ continue to be excluded from ‘belonging’ within Australian communities at a wide range of practical and symbolic levels, so it remains an ongoing challenge to broaden the experience of belonging, challenge the borders erected around ‘local’ identities, and work to transform Australia’s post-colonial paradigm. ‘I’m a Local…’ provides an instructive example of how change agents from different sectors working collaboratively can dismantle prevailing discourses and affirm more inclusive and hopeful futures.

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Articles (refereed)
Author Biographies

Leticia Claire Anderson, Southern Cross University

Dr Leticia Anderson is a Lecturer in Humanities at Southern Cross University (Australia). Leticia has a dual research focus on inclusive and transformational higher education and on race relations and Islamophobia in contemporary Australian society. Her current research is particularly focussed on evaluating representations of Islam and Muslims in Australian election reporting. Leticia formerly worked at the University of Sydney, including as a Lecturer at the National Centre for Cultural Competence and as Degree Director for the Master of Peace and Conflict Studies at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies.

Rob Cumings, Southern Cross University

Rob Cumings is a Senior Equity & Diversity Officer at Southern Cross University (Australia). Rob coordinates an Inclusive University Program, is a founding member of the Indigenous Events Coordinating Committee, an Executive member of the Reconciliation Action Plan Committee, and a Board member of the Gnibi Wandahran School of Indigenous Knowledge. Rob holds a Graduate Certificate in Continuing (Adult) Education and is a sessional academic at Southern Cross University’s School of Law & Justice.

Kathomi Gatwiri, Southern Cross University

Dr Kathomi Gatwiri is the author of “African Womanhood and Incontinent Bodies” (Springer ISBN 978-981-13-0564-1) and an award winning community educator, activist and lecturer from Kenya, currently residing in Australia. Dr. Gatwiri is a social worker and psychotherapist who holds a Bachelor of Social Work from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, a Masters in Counselling and Psychotherapy from the Cairnmillar Institute in Melbourne, and a PhD from Flinders University in South Australia.  In 2017, Gatwiri was named Young Kenyan of the Year by the Kenya Association of South Australia for her achievements and service in the African community in Australia.