TEACHERS are helping Iranian asylum seekers settle into Colac.
Trinity College Colac teachers have volunteered to start informal classes in English as a Second Language, or ESL, for the new arrivals and the classes started on Monday.
Asylum seeker families have been in Colac for about four weeks but their children are unable to enrol in a school until after the six-week mark.
Trinity teacher Sarah Cole said the teachers would have classes twice a week and they hoped to secure a bus service to collect students.
“We have a great group of volunteer teachers including Carolyn Grist, Brian Crook, Tony Duggan, Christina Symons, Sarah Hester, Dan Glennon, Anne McCrickard, Mick McCrickard, Meg O’Brian, Alannah Bloomer and Andrew McIntosh,” Ms Cole said.
“I believe that people are banding together to help refugees with greater enthusiasm than before because they are truly distressed at the way that asylum seekers are being used in this election,” she said.
“They want to show that they as individuals have compassion for people seeking refuge in a foreign land.”
Ms Cole said the public response to the asylum seekers’ arrival, including responses from schools, churches, health groups and ecotourism groups, showed people felt grateful for what they had “and a lot to offer others”.
“I’m incredibly proud of my community and touched by the generosity and kindness of people living here,” she said.
“I hope that our English as a Second or other Language classes can be a catalyst to form a more inclusive community, not just for new arrivals but for everyone.
“It’s been a wonderful experience getting to know ‘the people heard of, not from. The people spoken of, not to’.”
The families are in Colac while the Federal Government assesses their refugee status.
People qualified to teach ESL or interested in having training can contact Diversitat in Colac or visit the organisation’s website.