Mrs Ridley, who works for Communicare, organised for the children to meet refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to hear their stories about life in war-torn cities, refugee camps and travelling here on boats and planes from Indonesia and Malaysia.
The children learned that since 1951 the United Nations had moved displaced persons to new homes as they sought a safe refuge from war and persecution.
They also learned the difference between on and off-shore refugees, bridging visas, protection visas, and that ultimately it was important to help people to integrate into a new life in Australia with love and kindness.
Mrs Ridley also told them that it was not illegal to seek asylum.
The children learned the difference between the Sunni and the Shia branches of Islam in Iraq, and about the Hazara people and the Taliban in Afghanistan and now Pakistan, from where many persecuted Hazaras fled.
Both Hazara men who spoke were trained as engineers and are working for Communicare, helping new refugees with their transition to Australian life.
‘I want to give back to Australia, my new country,’ said Talib Hussain.
‘I would love to work as a engineer here and build something for everyone in Australia, not just for me.’
Teacher Jenny Webb said the children were delighted to meet the refugees. ‘They absolutely loved it and got so much out it, with the refugees being so happy to share their stories, which were sometimes sad and hard to tell.’
Communicare’s chief executive Martine Pitt said those who spoke were excellent examples of strong individuals who had travelled far, overcame challenges and were immensely grateful to Australia for their new lives.