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23 November 2017

Margaret and John Millington

This Thursday, November 30,  come to Beechworth’s Rotary Hall to hear a compelling story – how a couple worked in the small western Victorian rural community of Nhill to resettle more than 200 Karen refugees from 2009. In doing so, the people of Nhill – led by Margaret and John Millington, the Karen refugees and others – transformed the Wimmera community. This led to 70 new jobs at Nhill’s Luv-A-Duck business, at which John Millington was general manager, and is estimated to have generated more than $40 million in additional cashflow through the local community.

“The…people who worked for Luv-a-Duck at the time were instrumental in being able to talk with the community in Nhill and explain what would happen, the Karen themselves had leaders who were able to liaise and work with the Karen community, and then (we had) the resettlement agency (with its humanitarian resettlement program) – just being able to bring all those parties together (worked),” one of the people involved told the ABC.

Who are Margaret and John Millington?

Margaret Millington was born in Beechworth in 1951 and attended St Joseph’s Primary School. Her family moved to Melbourne in 1963 following the closure of Zwar Bros tannery where her father, Allan Shallue, had worked. She became a teacher and has been actively involved in all aspects of community life in and around Nhill since she and John moved there from Gippsland in 1983 where they grew game birds, most notably at Gumbuya Park.

Since 2009, this couple has devoted their lives to the successful relocation and integration in the town of more than 200 Karen refugees fleeing persecution in Myanmar (formerly Burma). This started when Margaret was still a member of the Luv-A-Duck team.

Together they have also successfully lobbied the Victorian government to introduce a ‘Safe Script’ scheme which, from 2018, will monitor Schedule 8 prescriptions in real time and finally allow doctors to make appropriate decisions when prescribing these addictive medications – thus saving lives. Until recently Margaret was also a member of the Wimmera Drug Action Task Force and a volunteer with Road Trauma Victoria.      

Both have been honoured, on separate occasions, with Medals of the Order of Australia in The Queen’s’ Birthday Honours for service to their community, refugee and social welfare organisations and aviculture.

Both love the Nhill community because it is inclusive and welcoming. While they believe the resettlement of the Karen has been one of the most rewarding things they have ever done, a happy marriage now in its 43rd year and raising five children are the achievements of which they are most proud.

Margaret and John Millington attribute their success and resilience to the example given to them by their parents, the love and support of their family, and by the gift of faith – forged in the most traumatic circumstances – by which they live.

REFUGEES: One rural community’s collaborative transformation

Date: Thursday, November 30, 2017
Time: 7:30 for 8:00pm
Where: Rotary Hall (former Guides’ hall) in Queen Victoria Park, off Sydney Road, Beechworth 3747
Entry: donation
Light refreshments will be available. If you could like to contribute slice, cake or biscuits for supper these would be most welcome.


For further information:
Contact Cr Jenny O'Connor
Phone 0417 126 409