Shepparton is a city with a history of successful multicultural integration.
We have become a beacon of safety to many who arrive with experience of persecution followed by detention.
Now, as a humanitarian crisis on Manus Island continues to escalate, some Shepparton residents, including the manager of a local migrant resource centre and a man who found asylum in Australia more than a decade ago, have weighed in on the situation.
Since re-opening the Manus Island detention centre in 2012, the Federal Government has injected an estimated $2 billion into the centre.
Today, more than a week after the centre was shut down, about 400 men are still inside, without power or water.
They are refusing to move to Australian-funded accommodation sites near the main town of Lorengau, fearing they will be attacked if they leave the Manus compound.
Papua New Guinea officials have passed deadlines in removing those still detained, but the situation remains deadlocked.
Shepparton’s Ethnic Council manager Chris Hazelman said Australians are now seeking a humanitarian solution to the crisis.
‘‘At the present time we’ve got a standoff with hundreds of people who are Australia’s responsibility, but they’re not being supported,’’ Mr Hazelman said.
‘‘Overall, it’s a very distressing and disturbing circumstance and a lot of people are looking for some leadership.’’