Rosemary Kariuki OAM

Advocate for migrant and refugee women

2021 Local Hero

Rosemary Kariuki is the multicultural community liaison officer for the Parramatta Police. She specialises in helping migrants who are facing domestic violence, language barriers and financial distress.

Fleeing Kenya alone in 1999 to escape family abuse and tribal clashes, her early years in Australia were terribly lonely. Her experience helped Rosemary recognise that isolation is a huge issue for many migrant women. Many aren’t used to going out alone, have no transport and speak little or no English. So Rosemary devised ways to help women leave their house and meet women in similar circumstances.

In partnership with the African Women’s Group, she helped start the African Women’s Dinner Dance. Now in its 14th year, more than 400 women attend the annual event. She also started the African Village Market – a program to help migrants and refugees start their own businesses – which ran for four years.

Rosemary’s warmth, courage and kindness inspire all who meet her. Her work was the subject of the documentary, Rosemary’s Way.


“Through receiving my award, I saw a legitimisation of the services I’ve provided in helping women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. This was acknowledged further with an Order of Australia Medal in 2022.

“Being a Local Hero has allowed me to respond to a wider community of women in NSW. I’ve since set up a Multicultural Exchange Program, which provides information and forums for women to socialise and connect. 

“Becoming a Local Hero takes a lot of time and effort to continue to inspire and demand change. Ask for help because it’s a new world of media and engaging with local and international communities. But just be yourself and continue doing what you do best.”