August 28, 2013
Oliver, 12, won a Courage to Care Award for his efforts collecting food for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. Source: News Limited
OLIVER has become a familiar sight in his community as he pushes a wheelbarrow around Alphington collecting food for asylum seekers.
The 12-year-old said he started doing the regular collections at the beginning of the year.
“I’d seen a lot about asylum seekers on the news and I wanted to do something to help,” Oliver said.
“They are stuck between two countries.
“They’ve been forced out of their own country but aren’t allowed to get jobs and get an income when they come to Australia.”
Oliver said he’d offered to volunteer at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in West Melboune, but was told he had to be 18. So he decided to collect for the charity’s food bank instead.
He said he was already friendly with many of his neighbours so was confident to knock on their doors to ask if they would donate non-perishable food.
“When I first started, one or two said they didn’t have time but most of the others thought it was a great idea for me to come around once a week or a fortnight to collect food,” he said. “I’ve got a roster worked out now so people know when I’m coming and I always end up with a wheelbarrow which is full and heavy.”
Oliver said local community centre the Alphington Self Help Exchange was a pick up point for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, so all he had to do was drop the food off for collection.
Last week his efforts to help asylum seekers were recognised with an award from Courage to Care, a Jewish organisation supported by the state Education Department that recognises individual acts of courage, social activism and action against apathy.
The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre’s meals manager Loretta Parlevliet also paid tribute to Oliver, describing him as an “absolute champion with a really big heart”. “It’s invaluable what he is doing,” she said. The centre provides 130-160 meals per day and also gives out donated food for asylum seekers to take home and prepare.
Food donations are collected from Alphington Self Help Exchange, 2 Kelvin Road, at noon on Thursdays.