BEHIND his smiling face, Ali Abbas Rezai has lived an extraordinary life, full of drama and tragedy.
Ali fled his home in Afghanistan for Pakistan with his mother after the Taliban executed his father when he was 14, and while he has endured many tough moments in his time, he has finally found what he was looking for when he settled in Rockhampton last year.
"I love living here because whenever I get sad or miss my family, I have friends here who cheer me up" he said.
"They understand what I am feeling and help me out."
Ali's story is just one of many that are told through a new publication, Settlement Works: Stories from Rockhampton, which was launched by Immigration Minister Chris Bowen at the Customs House yesterday.
The publication highlights that refugees, through their strong desire for employment, are willing to relocate to regional centres where critical labour shortages exist and that this, and their motivation to sustain their employment makes an important economic contribution to the state.
Chairman of the Multicultural Development Association Board, Warren McMillan, said it was an important step in highlighting the stories and contributions of refugees, not only to Rockhampton but the state and the nation.
"The Australian community we know is one that provides a welcoming safe place for refugees to re-establish their lives, so that they can go on to contribute to every aspect of life in our neighbourhoods, our communities and our nation."
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said the publication is another demonstration of the "genius" of multiculturalism at work.
"It's about inviting every individual member of society to be everything they can be by supporting new arrivals in adjusting to a new country and society and allowing them to flourish as individuals."
The Settlement Works: Stories from Rockhampton publication will be available from the Multicultural Development Association office on 46 Denham St or online at www.mdainc.org.au