On 18 June 2015, the Adelaide Hills Council (AHC) declared itself a Refugee Welcome Zone (RWZ). This is an initiative of the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA)and is defined as “a local government area which has made a commitment in spirit to welcoming refugees into the community, upholding the human rights of refugees, demonstrating compassion for refugees, and enhancing cultural and religious diversity in the community.” While the declaration does not confer any formal obligations, AHC did not want it to simply be a token gesture.
Following Adelaide Hills Council signing up to be a Refugee Welcome Zone the Council had a University placement student undertake a study and prepare the Refugee Welcome Zone Report to consider what this meant for the Council and what approach could be taken, this subsequently lead to the development of a Multicultural Action Plan 2017-2020.
From the Refugee Welcome Zone Report, it was found “that there are very few refugees living in the AHC area, but that this provides an opportunity to welcome refugees in other ways, such as inviting them to visit the Hills.” This led to the initiative of an Annual Harmony Picnic held in Federation Park at Gumeracha – the local community hosts a day for multicultural communities and refugee communities and families to come to the Adelaide Hills and enjoy a picnic with activities, food and drink, and performance.
Community Grant applications that support and celebrate cultural diversity are encouraged and considered.
A range of activities is offered through Council’s community centres and public programs including Persian cooking, arts and crafts, Indonesian batik, and hosting the Refugee Poster Exhibition in partnership with the Migrant Resource Centre.