WELCOME: Reverend Tim Costello relaxes at The Winsome Soup Kitchen.
WELCOME: Reverend Tim Costello relaxes at The Winsome Soup Kitchen. Andy Parks

Rev Tim no stranger at the soup kitchen

TIM Costello wears many hats.

The Baptist Minister is the CEO of World Vision Australia and a vocal advocate for refugees.

He is listed as a National Living Treasure by the National Trust and is a former winner of the Australian Peace Prize.

But is was a fluffy purple hat being worn by one of the regulars at the Winsome Soup Kitchen on Sunday that he had his eye on.

"I thought my wife Merridie would like to give it a pat," he said.

Reverend Costello is the patron of the Lismore Soup Kitchen and was enjoying a bit of down time after giving a sermon there in the morning before he was due to give a speech on last night for Refugee Week.

The speech was organised by Sanctuary Northern Rivers in conjunction with the combined churches of Lismore.

"The theme of the speech is 'once we were strangers and now we are friends, or welcome to my place'," Rev Costello said.

"I'm reflecting on the church's role as a safe place for refugees and that Australia's greatness comes from the fact that we are all migrants. Only the indigenous community are the original inhabitants."

The speech fell on the ninth anniversary of the first Sudanese refugees to arrive in Lismore with the assistance of Sanctuary Northern Rivers.

Since then about 150 refugees from the African nations of Sudan, Congo, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sierra Leone have been settled in Lismore.

"I want to commend the people of Lismore for that. The Sudanese come from the most remote part of Africa, so their transition here is an enormous credit to the community," he said.

Rev Costello has recently returned from refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan where World Vision is feeding 250,000 people and said the response to refugees there is a long way from the treatment they receive in Australia.

"We don't want people losing their lives in boats but we need to keep in perspective the history of this nation," he said. "I saw so many people taking Syrian refugees into their own homes.

"They may not agree on politics but there is a sense of moral clarity; we are all human and need to welcome them."