Our History (ECWA Foundation)
From 2005, a range of non-government and government services met at Blacktown City Council to form BECAP. BECAP’s aim was:
“Through coordinated planning and activity, to provide support to emerging communities and foster community harmony in the Blacktown Local Government Area.”
BECAP came out of the Police Accountability Community Team perceiving a rise in Sudanese people being a victim or offender in crime in the Blacktown Local Area.
An outcome of BECAP was the cooperative and the very satisfactory results after police from the Blacktown LAC approached community leaders with concern over Sudanese youth and crime. Under the “Sudanese or current South Sudanese Community Model”, elders became involved and incidents were managed by leaders from three South Sudan regions of Equatoria, Upper Nile and Bahrel Ghazal before they escalated to a police report. Furthermore concerns were dispelled after it was discovered that there were neither Sudanese gangs nor high rates of Sudanese people of any age implicated in crime (BECAP: 2006).
Sudanese Settlement Service was also involved in the Blacktown City Council-supported Africa House, a safe space and drop-in centre for African people to learn skills and network.
The Equatorian Community and Welfare Association Incorporated NSW have been active for many years since 7th April 2003. It is an organisation which is the umbrella group for a number of smaller organisations based South Sudanese leadership model and has been effective in working across these many diverse communities, bringing them together to share in cultural activities, celebrations, funerals and projects to assist the community. Equatoria is a region of South Sudan consists of 36 different ethnic tribes. The three regions of South Sudan model of leadership based the three regions of Equatoria, Bahr El Ghazal and upper Nile. Inhabitant of the three regions sees themselves as a region which works together both in Australia and in South Sudan.
Equatorian Community in Australia
African people arrive in Australia via three migration/refugee streams: humanitarian entry, skilled migration and family reunion. The South Sudanese community is one of the new and emerging African communities and its members have migrated from places such as Kenya and Egypt and from refugee camps.
Reports from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s (DIAC) use of ABS Census 2006 statistics indicate that newly arrived Sudanese people have primarily migrated to Western Sydney (2,706) in the Blacktown LGA (BECAP: 2006). More recent data from the DIAC’s Settlement Database shows that over a 5 year period from 2003-2008, 57% of new and emerging community members come from Sudan (BECAP: 2008, 6). Moreover many Sudanese people also live in Mount Druitt, Auburn and Merrylands.
Equatorian Australians face racism and negative community attitudes fuelled by the media. For some, there are hardships related to English, employment, housing and family separation, but the communities try their best and have created lives with connection and support.
During their short time here, the communities have accomplished many meaningful things. Sub-communities are being represented by 15 community organisations. Equatorian Australians are known for creativity, sport participation, spiritual practice and diverse cultures; people work in a variety of industries and are in the education sector at all levels; the communities mentor potential leaders, respect its elders and work together for the good of the community and in times of crises; the sub-communities do this on a communal basis for each other and to participate fully in Australia. Equatorian Australians are a resilient people—and while some have strong voices, some voices are still developing.