The City of Sydney became a Refugee Welcome Zone in 2005 and reaffirmed this commitment in 2014.
Our initiatives and programs to support refugees and people seeking asylum include free and low-cost access to facilities and services including swimming pools, gyms, and libraries.
We also organise and support events and initiatives that celebrate our area’s diversity and promote inclusion and community cohesion.
Health and wellbeing
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. Please contact Asylum Seekers Centre directly.
Our Access Card offers refugees and people seeking asylum a concessional rate to swim at any of our 5 swimming pools and hire tennis courts.
Nine library branches offer a special free temporary membership, which allows a borrowing limit of 5 items for 3 weeks, and access to all services including free Wi-Fi. Our community and recreation centres offer free and low-cost programs and activities for everyone.
The City of Sydney partners with non-profit organisation CareerSeekers to participate in the New Australian internship program. The program creates internship opportunities for refugees and asylum seekers who want to restart their professional careers in Australia. The City of Sydney has employed 4 CareerSeekers interns since 2016.
Grants and sponsorships
Our grants and sponsorship program provides funding and in-kind support to organisations for local projects and events that support and welcome refugees and people seeking asylum and celebrate their contributions to the community. Recently funded projects include:
- Asylum Seekers Centre – kindness bags
A COVID grant assisted in distributing kindness bags to individuals and families not supported by other nationwide safety nets during the pandemic.
- Inner West 4 Refugees – community events
The unincorporated community group of volunteers advocates for refugees and people seeking asylum by facilitating social and cultural exchanges between communities. With the support of a grant, community events encouraged people to provide practical support and welcome refugees and people seeking asylum in the City of Sydney’s area.
- Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS) – Refugee Women and Girls at Risk Project
The project provided vulnerable refugee women and girls confidential, specialised legal support concerning their visa issues, in a safe, supportive space including referrals to other support service providers, and information regarding sexual assault or apprehended violence orders.
- Refugee Council of Australia -Refugee Week
The event celebrated, recognised, and acknowledged the valuable contributions refugees and people seeking asylum provide across Sydney and nationwide.
Celebration of diversity
The City of Sydney values and celebrates its diversity by organising and sponsoring a number of major multicultural events and festivals each year, including the largest celebration of the Lunar New Year in the southern hemisphere, comprising lantern displays, night markets, food stalls, art exhibitions, dragon boat racing, and tours.
Find more information about how the City of Sydney values diversity
Inclusion and cohesion
Street signs across the area were installed as part of the Racism Not Welcome campaign. Locations included Circular Quay, Sydney Town Hall, Chinatown, and Central station. To complement the campaign, the City of Sydney organises and supports racial literacy workshops to build community capacity and skills.