Celebrating cultural diversity in the City

Monday, 23 March 2020

Did you know, about 16 per cent of Geelong’s population was born overseas?

We also welcome new arrivals and international students who add to the rich culture of the region.

The City’s Multicultural Action Plan 2018 - 2022 continues to provide strategic direction and guidance to Council to think, plan and deliver inclusively in response to the diverse needs of our increasing culturally diverse population.

National Harmony Day, on Saturday 21 March, celebrated multiculturalism in Australia.

There are many residents doing their bit to support others in our region.


Meet Chrimoo Yohellaymusaw.

Chrimoo arrived in Australia as a refugee from a Thai border refugee camp with her husband and two children in 2009.

She settled in Geelong and is now at the heart of the local Karen and Karenni community.

“When I arrived, I didn’t know anything,” Chrimoo says.

“When new arrivals come here, they don’t know the language, so it’s very important they get help from someone.”

Chrimoo works in education support at North Geelong Secondary College, and in bilingual programs at Diversitat.

Now in her 40s, in her spare time, she helps new families access services and assists high school students to find study or employment pathways after graduation.

Chrimoo is also active in her Baptist church community and enjoys marking important life moments with friends and family, like weddings and the annual “festival of harvest” or Kay Toe Boe.

She says there are about 300 Karen and Karenni families – about 1000 residents in total - living in the Geelong region.

“We’re a very united and connected community,” Chrimoo says.

“Geelong has very supportive, understanding and caring people.

“Everything is good here.”

Chrimoo grew up in Myanmar.

Her father joined the revolution and fought for independence against ethnic persecution from the government, which forced him into hiding.

At age nine, Chrimoo and her sister and mother had to flee their home and were guided through mountains at night to eventually reach the Thailand border in 1991.

There, she lived in refugee camps for the next 18 years.

Chrimoo helped build the family home made of bamboo and leaves.

She also met her husband Sawkoo at a leadership school at the refugee camp and together had daughter Hteemoo and son Truewin.

In 2006 Chrimoo and her young family applied for refugee status with the United Nations, not knowing where her new life would be.

Three years later, they arrived in Australia. Chrimoo’s mum and sister have since joined them in Geelong.

Chrimoo says it's important to celebrate the various cultures that add to the vibrant and ever-changing fabric of our community.

“Some cultures are similar, others are different, but you can just be open minded and accept cultures and differences as we are all humans,” she says.

For more information about the City’s support programs, volunteering opportunities and local organisations, visit our web page.

Greater Geelong Mayor Stephanie Asher

It is always an honour to celebrate the cultural diversity of Geelong.
We are so lucky to live in a community that embraces diversity and provides a safe, welcoming place call home.
I am privileged to see this acceptance and support often, at events including citizenship ceremonies and gatherings like Pako Festa.
We all know people like Chrimoo, who are the heart and soul of their communities and go that extra mile to make sure others are okay.


Cr Sarah Mansfield, Chair, Social Inclusion portfolio

I’m proud to live in a culturally and linguistically diverse region, that embraces new community members.
It’s vital we continue to be welcoming, tolerant and supportive of these residents, who make valuable contributions to Greater Geelong.

Page last updated: Monday, 23 March 2020