A safe and accessible city

Storytelling to build communities for all

This year’s Refugee Week recognises that sharing refugee’s stories can help us build understanding and stronger communities.


Sydneysiders will warmly welcome refugees and asylum seekers in celebrations to mark Refugee Week from Sunday 16 June 16 to Saturday 22 June.

It’s a great time for all of us to come together as a city.

This year’s program uses storytelling to dismantle community misconceptions about refugees and people seeking asylum.

The City of Sydney has been a Refugee Welcome Zone since 2005. We’re committed to upholding human rights, demonstrating compassion and enhancing cultural and religious diversity in our community.

A six-year journey to safety

As part of the program, a young Assyrian-Syrian woman will talk about her six-year journey to find a safe place she can call home.

Atra Tchikha arrived in Australia in 2017 after escaping the war in Syria and travelling through the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon.

“The war was so threatening, my mother received calls from unknown groups threatening to kidnap me and my sister,” Atra said.

“All the roads and networks were cut off as we were isolated where we were. My journey here was a struggle – six years of ongoing moving and travelling.”

Atra Tchikha
Atra Tchikha

Atra will share her story as part of a Refugee Council of Australia lunchtime program at Sydney’s Town Hall House on Friday 21 June.

The Refugee Council program trains and mentors refugees in public speaking so speakers can share their stories with the community. It aims to build social cohesion, address negative perceptions in the community and raise awareness about refugees and their journeys and contributions to Australia.

“I started studying construction management as soon as I set foot in Australia because I knew I had opportunities in my new home,” said Atra, who is studying for a degree at the University of Western Sydney.

“It's never too late to accept the opportunities you have. Take advantage of everything that surrounds you as a tool to build your future.”

Speakers celebrate strength from diversity

We’ve also partnered with the Asylum Seekers Centre to host a major speaking event – Stronger Together – at lower Sydney Town Hall on Thursday 20 June.

Speakers include Secretary General of the world’s largest human rights organisation, Amnesty International, Kumi Naidoo.

Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General, Amnesty International
Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General, Amnesty International

Mr Naidoo will talk about the refugee crisis from an international viewpoint, detailing the latest developments involving refugees and people seeking asylum. Dr Graham Thom from Amnesty International Australia will cover the Australian and Pacific context.

Other speakers include Asylum Seekers Centre CEO, Frances Rush, and Lord Mayor Clover Moore.

A young woman supported by the centre will share her experience of arriving in Australia and settling in a new community.

The event will also feature an uplifting performance by multicultural choir Phoenix Voices of Youth, in a joyous celebration of life, identity and hope.

Sport as a means to connect

Meanwhile, sports fanatics can enjoy the Refugee Round of the Multicultural Futsal Series (the M-Series) at King George V Recreation Centre in The Rocks.

The M-Series futsal games welcome newly arrived migrant communities, especially those from refugee backgrounds. The Refugee Round is the biggest in the series of one-day tournaments that celebrate diversity, foster social cohesion and connect communities.

The series is a collaborative project with the City of Sydney, Fair Game Australia, STARTTS (NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors), Western Sydney Wanderers FC and Football NSW.

Refugee Week runs from Sunday 16 June to Saturday 22 June with the theme ‘A world of stories’.

Stronger Together: Phoenix Voices of Youth
Stronger Together: Phoenix Voices of Youth

Events not to miss this Refugee Week

Read more or book your place.

Published 14 June 2019