Refugee Week 2017

Refugee Week 2017 was officially Australia’s biggest to date, with over 500 events celebrated across the country in every state and territory. Film screenings, art exhibitions, circus performances, public storytelling, music festivals, comedy galas, poetry slams, fashion shows, a smorgasbord of mouth-watering food and much, much more brought out tens of thousands of Australians to celebrate the courage and contribution that refugees bring to their adopted nation.

Crowds at the Festival of Welcome, Federation Square

The official Refugee Week celebrations included the NSW Refugee Week Launch at Paddington Town Hall, featuring live entertainment, workshops and a reading by Mem Fox; the Refugee Film Festival, which enjoyed sold-out screenings across the country; and the second annual Festival of Welcome in Melbourne, which saw artists from refugee backgrounds playing alongside Australian artists such as Dan Sultan, with thousands braving the wintry weather to dance, eat and celebrate in spite of the wintry weather.

Refugee Week 2016

Refugee Week 2016 was Australia’s biggest to date, with hundreds of events hosted up and down the country. People came out in their thousands to sing, dance and cheer refugee communities and all that they bring to Australia.
Constance and Vicky on hill

 

 

Refugee Week 2016 saw over 200 community film screenings held around the countries. These screenings aimed to introduce new audiences to the refugee experience in a creative and innovative way, and to appreciate the resilience and courage that people bring to Australia. They also showcased the many talents of people who have lived experience as refugees.

The success of these screenings led to the creation of the Refugee Film Festival later in 2016, which launched in November with a sell-out event at Melbourne’s Federation Square with a special screening of Constance on the Edge. Tim O’Connor, Acting CEO of RCOA, said “there couldn’t be a better film for the occasion than Constance on the Edge, a funny and uplifting story of the ups and downs of making a new home”.  Constance herself, as well as the filmmakers, attended the event for a special Q&A.

Refugee Week 2015

In June 2015, RCOA coordinated the 30th annual celebration of Refugee Week, with 295 local events held around Australia. Held to coincide with World Refugee Day (June 20), Refugee Week highlights the stories, voices, experiences and contributions of refugees, providing an opportunity to increase awareness about who refugees are and why they have come to Australia. The 2015 theme of Refugee Week was “With courage let us all combine” – words taken from the second verse of Australia’s national anthem. This theme, to be retained in 2016 and 2017, connects the courage of people who have been refugees to a call for action to build a fairer society.

Working in partnership with member agencies and sponsors, RCOA coordinated Refugee Week launches at Sunshine in Melbourne’s western suburbs and Warrawong in Wollongong’s southern suburbs, featuring speakers and performers of refugee background. Principal sponsors of Refugee Week 2015 were Victorian Multicultural Commission and Settlement Services International with major sponsors being AMES Australia and Navitas.

Refugee Week 2014

Australia celebrated the rich contributions of humanitarian arrivals at more than 230 events during Refugee Week. In the final year of the “Restoring Hope” theme, events included breakfasts, soccer tournaments, art exhibitions, film festivals and book launches. RCOA coordinated Refugee Week launches in Granville, Sydney (in partnership with STARTTS and Settlement Services International) and in Ballarat (in partnership with the City of Ballarat, Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council and the Centre for Multicultural Youth). Guest speakers at the Sydney launch included former refugee Ali Ali and RCOA President Phil Glendenning. Excerpts from Mr. Glendenning’s speech at: http://refugeecouncil.org.au/n/mr/140614_RefugeeWeek.pdf and Ali’s full speech can be read at: http://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/r/spch/140614_RWAliAli.pdf.

The Sydney launch also featured the Dario Palermo Refugee Art Exhibition and presentation of 2014 NSW Refugee Humanitarian Awards. The Victorian launch at Ballarat included speeches from Kon Karapanagiotidis OAM, founder and CEO of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Ballarat Councillor Belinda Coates and Sadiki Mukasa, a young refugee of Congolese background and recipient of City of Ballarat’s 2013 Youth of the Year Award. Our Refugee Week ambassadors were also busy, speaking at events and appearing in a number of media interviews to promote Refugee Week.

See the Refugee Week Poster 2014.

Refugee Week 2013

Australia celebrated the rich contributions of humanitarian arrivals at more than 200 events during Refugee Week. Under the “Restoring Hope” theme, events included breakfasts, soccer tournaments, art exhibitions, film festivals and book launches, culminating in the Welcome to Australia Walk Together event in 15 Australian cities and towns. RCOA coordinated Refugee Week launches in Sydney (in partnership with STARTTS) and in Geelong (in partnership with Diversitat). Guest speakers at the Sydney launch included Baulkham Hills Ladies Troupe star Yarrie Bangura and RCOA President Phil Glendenning. The Sydney launch also featured the Dario Palermo Refugee Art Exhibition, presentation of 2013 Refugee Humanitarian Awards and a screening of the Australian Refugee Film Festival and entertainment. The Victorian launch was hosted by Diversitat and held at the Northern Community Hub in Norlane, Geelong. The celebration included speeches from Victorian MP Andrew Katos, Geelong councillor Dr Srechko Kontelj, Geelong resident Tereza Gum and RCOA board member Dr Melika Sheikh-Eldin. The inaugural Refugee Champion Awards were presented to Ali Khan Ahamadi and Hemraz Bhoolah. Refugee Week ambassadors spoke at events and appeared in a number of media interviews to promote celebrations.  RCOA administered the NSW Refugee Week Small Grants program, funded by the NSW Community Relations Commission, which supported 11 Refugee Week events.

Refugee Week 2012

Refugee Week 2012 was held between Sunday 16 June and Saturday 22 June. In 2012, the event was celebrated with a new theme Restoring Hope. Events included breakfasts, soccer tournaments, public forums, morning teas, book fairs, flashmobs, film festivals and Welcome to Australia’s “Walk Together” initiative. Major launches were held in Sydney and Melbourne, with keynote speakers including former refugee from Afghanistan Nooria Wazefadost, RCOA CEO Paul Power and a question and answer session with Melbourne Heart A-League player Golgol Mebrahtu and young people of refugee background.

The Principal Sponsors were the Victorian Multicultural Commission and the Network of Caring. City of Sydney Council was a major sponsor. Other sponsors were AMES, Navitas English, the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, NSW AMES and Leichhardt Municipal Council.

Refugee Week 2011

Refugee Week 2011 was held from Sunday 17 June to Saturday 23 June, continuing with the theme “Freedom from Fear”. Major launches took place in Sydney and Melbourne. The Sydney launch was conducted in partnership with STARTS and featured the Dario Palermo Refugee Art Exhibition, the presentation of 2011 Refugee Humanitarian Awards, and a screening of the Australian Refugee Film Festival. The keynote speakers were Yalda Hakim (MC), Ellen Hansen and Gracia Ngoy. In Melbourne, the launch was addressed by the John Gibson, Majak Daw (North Melbourne AFL footy player), Najeeba Wazefadost (former refugee), and Carina Hoang (former refugee and editor of the new book “Boat People”).

Refugee Week continues to grow, with more than 220 local events taking place across Australia in 2011. With the support of the NSW Community Relations Commission, the Refugee Council provided small grants to a dozen community organizations conducting events during Refugee Week.

The Principal Sponsor for Refugee Week 2011 was the Victorian Multicultural Commission. Major Sponsors were AMES Victoria and the NSW Community Relations Commission. Other sponsors were the City of Sydney, AMES NSW, ACL, Leichhardt Council and Mallesons Stephen Jaques.

Refugee Week 2010

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Refugee Week 2010 was held from Sunday 19 June to Saturday 26 June, focusing on the theme “Freedom from Fear”. Major launches took place in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, with keynote speakers including former Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, NSW Minister for Citizenship, John Hatzistergos, and SA Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Grace Portolesi.

With more than 190 local events taking place across Australia, 2010 was the most successful celebration to date. Events included festivals, film and documentary screenings, music, dance, theatre, art and photographic exhibitions, sporting events, personal stories and speeches, public seminars, information and training sessions, rallies, book launches, a prayer vigil, tree planting, fund raising events and even river and harbour cruises.

The Principal Sponsor for Refugee Week 2010 was the Victorian Multicultural Commission. Major Sponsors were AMES Victoria and the NSW Community Relations Commission. Other sponsors were the City of Sydney, AMES NSW, ACL, Leichhardt Council and Mallesons Stephen Jaques.

Refugee Week 2009

Refugee Week 2009 was held from Sunday 14 June to Saturday 20 June, focusing on the theme “Freedom from Fear”. Major launches were held in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane and more than 160 local events took place, including community celebrations, arts events, seminars, information expos, sporting events, film screenings and competitions.

At the NSW launch of Refugee Week 2009, speakers included John Gibson, president of RCOA, and Yasmeen Fatimah, a member of the Rohingya community in Sydney. Their speeches can be found on our Speeches page.

Major sponsors for Refugee Week 2009 were the Victorian Multicultural Commission and AMES Victoria. NSW sponsors of Refugee Week who offered financial and in-kind support included the NSW Community Relations Commission, ACL, AMES NSW, Leichhardt Council and City of Sydney.

Refugee Week 2008

In 2008, Refugee Week was held from June 15 to 21, focusing on the theme “A Place to Call Home”. Major launches were held in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane and more than 140 local events took place, including community celebrations, arts events, seminars, information expos, sporting events, film screenings and competitions. The guest speaker at the Sydney launch was Les Murray, SBS-TV football broadcaster and former refugee from Hungary. Les, who came to Australia as an 11-year-old boy, spoke of his personal experiences and of the contribution of refugees to national life. To read his speech, click here.

The theme “A Place to Call Home” aimed to encourage people to think about the global themes of protection and human rights by focusing on the fundamental right to a secure place to call home. It provoked thought about our common obligations to people who have no secure home, and also acknowledged the 700,000 refugees and humanitarian migrants over the past 60 years who have made Australia their home.

Major sponsors for Refugee Week 2008 were Victorian Multicultural Commission and AMES Victoria. NSW sponsors of Refugee Week who offered financial and in-kind support included the NSW Community Relations Commission, ACL, AMES NSW, Leichhardt Council and Mallesons Stephen Jacques.

Refugee Week 2007

Refugee Week 2007 was held from June 17 to 23. The theme of Refugee Week 2007 was “The Voices of Young Refugees”. More than 130 events were held around Australia. The theme focused attention on the contribution, ideas and concerns of refugee children, teenagers and young adults.

Refugee Week 2006

In 2006, Refugee Week was held from 22 to 28 October. The 2006 theme was “Journeys”. In NSW, Refugee Week was launched by the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Councillor Clover Moore MP. To read her address, click here. In Victoria, the keynote speaker at the launch of 2006 Refugee Week was Julian Burnside QC.