REFUGEE WEEK – 19 – 25 June
Coinciding with World Refugee Day on Friday 20th June
Our ultimate aim is to facilitate better understanding between different communities and encourage successful integration, enabling refugees to live in safety and to continue making a valuable contribution to Australia.
The Aims of Refugee Week:
* — To educate the Australian public about who refugees are and why they have come to Australia
* — To help people understand the many challenges refugees face in coming to Australia
* — To celebrate the contribution refugees make to our community
* — To focus on how the community can provide a safe and welcoming environment for refugees
* — For community groups and individuals to do something positive for refugees, asylum seekers and displaced people, within Australia but also around the world, and
* — For service providers to reflect on whether they are providing the best possible services to refugees.
The theme for Refugee Week in 2016 is ‘With courage let us all combine’ as chosen by the Refugee Council of Australia. Taken from the second verse of the national anthem, the theme celebrates the courage of refugees and of people who speak out against persecution and injustice. It serves as a call for unity and for positive action, encouraging Australians to improve our nation’s welcome for refugees and to acknowledge the skills and energy refugees bring to their new home.
It takes courage to be a refugee: As people who have faced persecution because of who they are (their race, nationality or membership of a persecuted group) or what they believe (their religion or political opinion), refugees need:
* — The courage not to deny identity or beliefs in the face of persecution.
* — The courage to leave all that is familiar and step into the unknown in search of peace.
* — The courage to keep going in the face of devastating loss, difficulty and despair.
* — The courage to begin again, to work hard and to maintain hope in an unfamiliar land.
It takes courage to speak out against injustice: In a world where refugees experience persecution in their countries of origin and often face discrimination, difficulty and rejection in places where they seek refuge, speaking out often requires courage. In Refugee Week, we acknowledge and celebrate the dedication and bravery of refugee leaders, advocates and citizens who draw attention to violations of human rights, support people at their time of greatest need and challenge callous indifference to the suffering of others.
A call for unity and action for a fairer society: The Refugee Week theme encourages Australians to celebrate the best aspects of our nation’s welcome of refugees, frankly acknowledge unjust treatment of asylum seekers and refugees and commit to working together to ensure that we do better. We celebrate the positive contributions to Australian society made over the past 70 years by the 800,000 Australians who once were refugees, taking inspiration from the second verse of Advance Australia Fair as follows:
Beneath our radiant Southern Cross, We’ll toil with hearts and hands; To make this Commonwealth of ours, Renowned of all the lands; For those who’ve come across the seas, We’ve boundless plains to share; With courage let us all combine, To Advance Australia Fair. In joyful strains then let us sing, Advance Australia Fair.