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FROM 1970-92, 30,000 migrants from around the world, including Cambodia, Vietnam, East Timor, Chile, China, Iran, Britain and Europe, called the Enterprise Migrant Hostel in Springvale home until they found permanent accommodation.
The most powerful memory for many of them when arriving at the hostel was the beautiful rose garden displaying masses of red blooms. It made them feel safe and secure in the knowledge that something so well cared for meant they, too, would be cherished and protected in their new country. Many were fleeing persecution from war-torn countries in the '70s and '80s and seeking refuge in Australia.
As one migrant told a committee formed to establish a permanent memorial for the hostel: ''Roses are symbolic, pruned and cared for just like the people, and they all bloomed. At my place there's always a red rose. It means a lot."
Given the symbolism of red roses to so many newcomers to Melbourne, it seems fitting that a new rose has been bred to honour the history of the hostel and the contribution made to the community by migrants and refugees, many of whom later settled in the Springvale area.
The first 'Enterprise' rose, bred by Treloar Roses, was planted earlier this month at the Lexington Gardens retirement village, the former site of the hostel, by Jose Alvarez, Victorian state director of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, and Simon Crean, the Minister for the Arts and federal member for Hotham.
''Enterprise was the home to many arriving in this country for the first time,'' Crean said. ''Those migrants have made an immeasurable contribution to this nation. Their spirit has shaped us and that spirit is reflected in this project. It is recognition of our strengths and our future intrinsically linked to our diverse cultural heritage.''
A bright-red floribunda with double pompon-style blooms produced in clusters of four to five, the 'Enterprise' rose's colourful and bounteous beauty is a beacon of light for the many migrants and refugees who still live in the area, some of them now at the retirement village.
Eventually a bed of 200 roses will form a permanent memorial garden at the retirement village where migrants/refugees and their descendants can visit and reflect on the impact a rose garden had on their lives as newcomers to this country.
Merle Mitchell, project convener and former director of the Springvale Community Aid and Advice Bureau, says the permanent memorial evolved from an exhibition at the Immigration Museum highlighting the contribution by migrants and refugees to Australia.
''People felt a permanent and physical acknowledgment was needed to honour the 30,000 people who had lived and worked at the hostel. It was an open book and lots of ideas came forth,'' she says. ''Many said the first thing they saw was the beautiful rose garden at the hostel. Seeing that made them feel that they would be safe and secure in this country.
''So the idea of the 'Enterprise' rose was born. It was a wild idea but someone talked to Treloar Roses and they wanted to make a contribution to the asylum/refugee debate.''
The planting of the first rose was emotional for many who attended the ceremony.
A Cambodian refugee who arrived in the '80s (in 1990 the hostel was a detention centre for 118 Cambodian ''boat people'' who were not allowed to leave without permission) is now the mayor of Greater Dandenong and at the launch he met the teacher who had taught him English. ''There were lots of emotional reunions that day,'' Mitchell says.
There has been a long tradition of naming roses after famous people from diverse backgrounds such as the Empress Josephine to Mary Queen of Scots, Leonardo da Vinci, Snow White, Cinderella, Dolly Parton, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch and Olivia Newton John.
Naming roses in support of causes is gaining popularity such as the 'Jane McGrath' rose to help breast cancer research. Another new cultivar by the breeding house of Treloar is the 'Thank you' rose for Transplant Australia as a symbol of gratitude ''when thanks is not enough''. An award-winning mauve floribunda, it produces clusters of fully petalled blooms, has a delicate smell and is a prolific grower.
Gary Matuschka, director of Treloar Roses, said it was a pleasure to support Transplant Australia and be able to highlight the importance of organ and tissue donation in Australia.
The rose will be available late next month. Treloar Roses will donate $1 from the sale of each plant to Transplant Australia's Journey of Hope campaign to support those awaiting a transplant.
Details of all our roses are available on our web site. Over 1000 varieties to choose from.