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Local hero receives OAM

Rosemary Kariuki’s service to multicultural community has been acknowledged in the Queen’s Birthday 2022 Honours List with an Order of Australia Medal (OAM). It’s another recognition for her work in assisting women from non-English speaking backgrounds adapt to their new country and flee domestic violence.

The Oran Park resident in 2021 was named Australia’s National Local Hero.

Ms Kariuki’s humbled and surprised by the award, but even on a long-weekend took time out to assist a woman fleeing a domestic violence situation. She said the work never stops, “even on her days off”.

Her belief is that “we all need to give back to the community and extend our hand to neighbours and not to tire from doing good.”

Her own story is harrowing having fled tribal clashes and domestic violence in her native Kenya. When she settled in Australia in 1999 she transformed her suffering and loneliness into compassion for the migrant communities she found here.

It was that experience that inspired her to help other migrant women experiencing similar feelings – especially those women who feel isolated, have no transport and speak little or no English.

“No one talked to me, everything was new. It was like a culture shock,” Ms Kariuki said.

To cope she started visiting the elderly in nursing homes and her community involvement widened.

These include: A film ‘Rosemary's Way’ 2020; Co-Founder, African Women's Dinner Dance, since 2006; Contributor, African Women's Group; Volunteer, The Migrant Resource Centre, Auburn, and; Volunteer, Agape International Church, current.

She was humbled and surprised to receive this year’s recognition. It’s been a very busy few years for the multicultural community liaison officer who first started assisting migrant women more than 15 years ago at Parramatta local area command before transferring to Campbelltown a few years ago.

“I am humbled and surprised,” she said when she learnt of her inclusion in this year’s honour’s list.

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