Rose Valley resident Maria Baden featured in new documentary 'Rosemarys Way'

Maria Baden. Picture: Supplied
Maria Baden. Picture: Supplied

Maria Baden remains grateful to her German/Polish parents, who fled Europe after World War II and taught her hospitality towards, and acceptance of, all people.

"I've been involved in social justice groups for many years, and social justice has been a very strong component of my life," the Rose Valley resident and former teacher said.

"Refugees, women, climate change, Aboriginal reconciliation - all of those issues are part and parcel of my life."

Mrs Baden is featured in director Ros Horin's new documentary, Rosemary's Way.

The film has been announced as a finalist for the 2020 Documentary Australia Foundation Award as part of the 67th Sydney Film Festival: Virtual Edition & Awards.

Rosemary's Way is one of 10 new Australian documentaries selected as finalists for the award for 'Best Australian Documentary'.

The film documents change-maker, Kenyan-born Rosemary Kariuki who has made it her mission to empower migrant women in Sydney, enticing them out of cultural silos to connect with each other and wider Australian society.

The film follows Ms Kariuki as she coaxes isolated women from cultures as diverse as Iraq, the Congo and Peru to tackle new adventures.

These women are the key characters, as are the Australian women, including Mrs Baden.

Mrs Baden lives and works with her husband Gerhard on a Wagyu beef farm, and hosts some of the migrant women in the film.

Mrs Baden said she had known Ms Kariuki for several years.

"Rosemary's taken women to the Blue Mountains, Dubbo, Lithgow, Ulladulla ... Because a lot of the women have never been outside their suburb," Mrs Baden said.

"So it gives the women a chance to see something of the beauty of Australia, and also to be welcomed into Australian homes.

"(Their Rose Valley property) is a great place to share the beauty with others."

Mrs Baden described the film as "uplifting and inspiring", and hoped it would "open some minds and hearts".

"It feels great in that people are responding to it in such a positive way," she said.

Rosemary Kariuki.

Rosemary Kariuki.

"It's a good documentary because it's done that job, and I think it's wonderful because it's brought back to life the importance of welcoming people into our country.

"And Australia is a country that has always... People have always come from overseas to Australia.

"You get lots of migrants and refugees coming to Australia. My parents were refugees after World War II.

"It feels good because if it's hitting the spot in people's hearts, that has to be a good thing."

Rosemary's Way will be available on the Sydney Film Festival website from June 10-21.

Horin said the film gives voice to those on the margins; voices we are barely aware of in mainstream Australia.

"These women from Africa, Middle East and the Indian sub-continent are some of the most isolated individuals in our country," the director said.

"The film provides a unique intimate window into their lives today in Australia and offers up some surprising insights and unexpected revelations."

This story Maria has turned her farm into a sanctuary for refugees first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.