Introduced by Barnaby Joyce
A year ago the small rural community of Mingoola on the New South Wales-Queensland border was facing a bleak future. The population was in decline and there were so few children that the primary school was about to be closed.
Local woman Julia Harpham vowed to save her community and sought inspiration from the region’s rich history of migration. But she had no idea where to find new settlers.
Meanwhile in Western Sydney, refugee advocate Emmanuel Musoni was facing problems with his community, who came from Rwanda and neighbouring African countries.
Most of them had rural backgrounds but on arrival in Australia they were settled in cities. This often led to unemployment, a feeling of alienation and depression.
“Most of the people from my community are really grateful to live here in Australia,” Emmanuel told Australian Story. “But many of them find it really difficult when they get here.”
When Julia and Emmanuel were put in contact with each other late last year, both saw an answer to their problems.
The local community began renovating several abandoned farmhouses and Emmanuel started looking for an initial two families willing to make the move. Within a week 50 families had registered their interest.
The first two families moved to Mingoola in April and the school re-opened days later.
Meanwhile, another farmhouse was renovated and Australian Story followed a third family as they made the move from Adelaide to a new life in the tiny but growing community.
Emmanuel describes it as a meeting of dreams. For the Africans it’s a return to their rural roots; for the farmers it’s an injection of life into their community.
“We've both had a win out of it,” says local woman Christine Denis. “We've got this mishmash of people and somehow we fit beautifully together.”
Emmanuel now has a database with more than 100 families who want to move to the bush but Mingoola is a tiny community and can’t sustain more new arrivals.
All those involved, however, hope that what has been achieved in Mingoola can be a model for struggling communities across rural Australia.
Screens Monday 7 November at 8pm