Tamworth migrant history can shape the town's future

Eddie Whitham
Eddie Whitham

TAMWORTH’s tale as a migrant home is a long and challenging one.

This weekend has been set down as a celebration of the most recent 40 years in the story.

In 1978, eight families fleeing a war-torn situation in Laos made a long and challenging journey to their new home in Tamworth.

It couldn’t have been an easy transition, but it had to be better than the life left behind.

Tamworth is now home to more than 80 nationalities, including descendants of the city’s first Lao families.

It marked a starting point for those migrant’s lives and also Multicultural Tamworth, an ever-evolving movement which has only remained static in its faith the beneficial contribution of migrants and refugees.

Eddie Whitham wants the celebration of Lao people in Tamworth to serve as a reminder that Tamworth’s welcome mat has been rolled-out for many years, reprising a message of inclusiveness and acceptance.

Acceptance has not always been Tamworth’s strong-suit, even in the last 10 or 15 years.

A perfunctory search online and you will find the headline ‘You’re not welcome, town tells refugees’ tied to Tamworth.

Unacceptable.

This year also marks the bicentenary of John Oxley’s expedition in to this region.

Once again, a long and challenging journey it has been in Tamworth’s modern history since then.

But that’s exactly what it remains: history.

Not much can be changed about it, but the future remains shapeless and untarnished.

It’s ours to mould with lessons learnt from a, sometimes, shameful past and with the knowledge of all cultures and nationalities that call Tamworth home.

This weekend will mean a great deal to a relatively small sector of the community, but it represents a statement on the city’s behalf.

It’s a nod to the migrant community’s contribution to Tamworth and a reminder of the fruits of a welcoming and inclusive environment in town.

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