About the Karen People in Bendigo
Bendigo is a small regional city in Victoria in south-east Australia.
Bendigo has a population of over 100,000 people.
The first seven Karen Burmese refugees arrived in Bendigo in May 2007.
More Karen refugees have come directly from refugee camps in Thailand,
and many Karen refugees have relocated from other places in Australia to
live in Bendigo.
Most Karen refugees come from small mountain villages. Life in a small,
beautiful city surrounded by forest and farms is more suitable for Karen
people than life in a big city like Melbourne or Sydney. Older Karen
refugees who have problems learning English have been able to get work
on farms, giving their lives dignity and meaning as well as income.
Karen refugees living in Bendigo have many friends in the wider
community. Karen Buddhists are involved with the Australian and Tibetan
Buddhist communities. Karen Christians worship with their respective
Australian Christian (Baptist, Anglican, Catholic and Adventist) communities. This is different to other places in
Australia where Karen people have few opportunities to make friends in
the wider community.
The Karen community in Bendigo has received positive media coverage from
local television and newspapers - click
here for a
selection of articles.
Karen people are deeply grateful for the support they have received from
Christian and Buddhist faith communities in Bendigo.
According to the 2011 census figures, there were 282 Karen speakers in
Bendigo. In 2015 this had grown to approximately 1000 Karen people living in
Karen community organisations in Bendigo are the Karen Buddhist Dhamma
Dhutta Foundation Inc and the Karen Organisation Bendigo (formerly Karen
Democracy & Development Organisation Bendigo).