5 ways to celebrate Refugee Week

From events and volunteering to films and books, make a connection this year.

Refugee Week, from Sunday 19 to Saturday 25 June, is a celebration of the contributions refugees and people seeking asylum make in our communities. Here in Australia the annual weeklong program of events and activities aims to raise awareness and educate people about who refugees are and why they have come to our country. It also helps people understand the challenges they face and to create a culture of welcome.

The theme of this year’s Refugee Week is healing, representing the opportunity the world has to hit the reset button on how we behave towards one another. It highlights the importance of human connections and how we can draw upon shared hardship to heal wounds, learn from each other and move forward.

Here are just 5 ways we invite you to get involved and show your support this Refugee Week.

Parliament on King is catering the event at Reginald Murphy Community Centre

1. Attend an event

There are many great events happening during Refugee Week where you can learn more about refugees and connect through storytelling.

We’re hosting events at our community centres where you’ll hear from Refugee Council of Australia ambassadors about their lived experience.

Join George Najarian, also known as ‘Ginger George’ at Reginald Murphy Community Centre on Tuesday 21 June. You’ll also get the chance to sample food from other cultures prepared by Parliament on King, a refugee-based catering kitchen. And talented Kings Cross vocalist Jay Dunn and her ensemble Dazen World, featuring Argentinian and Indonesian rhyme and sounds, will perform live healing music.

Milad Kado is our guest speaker for a morning tea at Ron Williams Community Centre on Wednesday 22 June. Milad’s family fled worn torn Iraq for Syria before they were eventually given a lifeline – a refugee visa to Australia.

Explore other events happening in Sydney to celebrate Refugee Week.

2. Watch films

Join the library to access our free streaming services with an amazing collection of Australian and international films

Watch the award winning documentary For Sama on Kanopy. The film takes the form of a letter from Waad al-Kateab, a 26-year old Syrian mother, to her daughter Sama recorded in the last days of the battle for Aleppo.

Intimate portraits of the men, women and children who have found themselves in 2 of the biggest refugee camps in Jordan for Syrian refugees are explored in the feature documentary Watan available to watch on Beamafilm and Kanopy.

There’s also a recommended list of films, documentaries and shows about refugees and people seeking asylum you can watch and share with others on the Refugee Week website.

3. Read books

Our library members have access to a huge collection of books, ebooks and eaudiobooks. The reading list includes Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani’s No Friend but the Mountains, an account of his 6 years of incarceration on Manus Island. In The Ungrateful Refugee, Dina Nayeri weaves together the story of her own refugee journey as a child forced to flee Iran, with the stories of others making their own journeys today.

The Refugee Week website also has curated a range of excellent fiction and non-fiction books for you to read this Refugee Week.

Volunteers at the Asylum Seekers Centre in Newtown. Credit: Erin Black / Asylum Seekers Centre

4. Consider volunteering

The Refugee Council of Australia has opportunities for volunteers to help with research, events, communications, campaigns and advocacy work. It also provides contact details of member organisations who need volunteers. These include organisations like the Asylum Seekers Centre and Refugee Advice and Casework Service which has received support through our grants and sponsorship program.

5. Support refugee businesses

From food and fashion to arts and trades, there are many refugee-powered businesses right here in Sydney and across Australia. Social enterprise the Welcome Merchant makes it easy for you to find and support them with a directory of refugee and asylum seeker entrepreneurs.

Refugees and people seeking asylum are welcome in our city

We’re proud to be one of the country’s most diverse cities and home to refugees and people seeking asylum from around the world. We’ve been an official refugee welcome zone since 2005, a commitment to upholding human rights, demonstrating compassion and enhancing cultural and religious diversity.

Refugees and people seeking asylum have free or low-cost access to many of our facilities and services, including libraries and community centres. Residents can apply for an access card that provides a reduced rate to our aquatic and fitness centres and tennis courts.

Free swimming lessons for refugees and people seeking asylum are available at the Cook + Phillip Park Aquatic and Fitness Centre and Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre. Contact Asylum Seekers Centre directly.

Meet Roaa, George and Sarab

We're proud to welcome them, and all refugees and people seeking asylum, to our city.

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