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Afghan Refugees make new home in Goulburn Valley Orchards - Facebook

Afghan refugees make new home in Goulburn Valley orchards

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Updated 17 Mar 2016, 11:16am
Row after row of trees in all directions are burdened with a bountiful amount of apples at an orchard in Victoria's Goulburn Valley.
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AUDIO: Rural Reporter: Afghan refugees call Shepparton home(ABC Rural)
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AUDIO: Refugee workers are making a difference to Goulburn Valley orchards and its community. (ABC Rural)
A small army of workers is busy picking the fruit, placing it in bins and making sure each piece meets the correct standard of the business.
It's harvest time for Granny Smith apples in the orchard of Peter Hall and his fruit is ready to be sent across Australia and the world to waiting consumers. 
The orchard is a diverse place, the manager is from New Zealand, various accents from backpackers can be heard in each row, but the largest group of workers came to Australia as refugees. 
Peter Hall was asked if he would hire Afghanistan refugees for orchard work as soon as they started arriving in nearby Shepparton. 
He jumped at the chance and says it has been one of the best business decisions he has made.

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"They were quite a natural source of labour for working in the orchard, picking, pruning, thinning," he said.
"After a while we got to know these guys, many of them had a rural background, some of them even had their own orchards and they even told us their tips on how to grow fruit."
From there the relationship blossomed.
"They've bought houses in town, they live in town, they've brought their families over, their kids are going to school here, their kids are going to university and they've really become part of the fabric of our community." 
One of the refugees is Khuda dad Haidari who took a little time to find a home.
"There was not peace, we had to leave Afghanistan and come here," he said.
"First time I come to Australia I was in Darwin, then I go to Sydney and that was a busy city and I don't like a busy city so then I come to Shepparton because here is quiet and the rent is cheap."
Mr Haidari has been promoted in the orchard and now does some management of picking teams and acts as an interpreter for those with poor English skills. 
He likes the work and said he is never going to leave.
"I come here to stay here," he said.
"I built a house and I'm happy here." 
The success of these refugee workers on orchards is being hailed as a model for Australia increasing its intake of people fleeing war and conflict.
Peter Hall said Shepparton should be seen as an example for when the nation considered letting more refugees into the country.
"As long as people are vetted properly and evaluated properly, I can't see any issues for Australia welcoming people to come here, if they want to contribute and be part of our community," he said.
"I stress that, the Afghani people are part of our community."
"I think Shepparton is one of the best places on earth in being able to welcome people from all parts of the globe without any difficulties."
First posted 17 Mar 2016, 8:18am

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