Refugee Council of Australia
Refugee Welcome Zones with green logo

City of Yarra

YarraThe City of Yarra is an inner metropolitan municipality that is home to a diverse community of about 100,000 people. Yarra’s 19.5 square kilometres include the suburbs of Abbotsford, Burnley, Clifton Hill, Collingwood, Cremorne, Fitzroy, North Carlton, North Fitzroy, and Princes Hill, and Richmond. Parts of Alphington and Fairfield -south of Heidelberg Road -are also included in Yarra. Approximately 29% of Yarra residents were born overseas (2016census)and have come to Yarra from more than140 countries. The most common overseas birthplaces include Vietnam, China, Greece, and Italy. Yarra provides support to people seeking asylum in various ways. Yarra’s Multicultural Partnerships Plan 2019-2023aims to ensure Council is accountable to its culturally diverse community, providing services that are accessible and as culturally relevant as possible. It provides a blueprint for staff that supports best practice delivery of services to residents, businesses, and visitors to Yarra, and recognises the contribution of refugees and asylum seekers to our municipality.

Programs and services that welcome refugees and people seeking asylum to City of Yarra

Policies and Council Statements
Yarra City Council has been a Refugee Welcome Zone since 2002, and it was one of the first local governments to join this initiative. A Refugee Welcome Zone is 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.

In 2005 when the first Refugee and Asylum Seeker Statement was adopted by Council, the welcome banners stating “City of Yarra Welcomes Refugees and Asylum Seekers” were displayed outside the Collingwood Town Hall on special occasions such as Refugee Week.•Council unanimously voted in 2010 to permanently display the Welcome Banners to refugees and Asylum Seekers from three town hall sites –Collingwood, Fitzroy, and Richmond.
Council adopted a revised Refugee and Asylum Seeker Statement in 2019, which outlines Yarra’s commitment to a respectful and compassionate approach to refugees and people seeking asylum(see below)which can be found in the Multicultural Partnerships Plan 2019-2023.

Refugee and Asylum Seeker Statement
Yarra City Council:
  • Recognises and welcomes all people who have arrived on humanitarian visas, people seeking asylum and those who come from refugee backgrounds who arrive on other visa types, including family migration and skilled migration.
  • Recognises the United Nations definition of a person seeking asylum as an individual seeking international protection but whose claim has not been fully decided yet.
  • Recognises the journey of people seeking asylum who are often fleeing from war and human rights violations. They have often experienced trauma and persecution and should be treated with dignity and compassion, while acknowledging these people also have strengths, which have contributed to their survival and resilience.
  • Will provide opportunities for refugees and people seeking asylum to actively participate and contribute tocommunity life.
  • Will actively advocate for the rights of refugees and people seeking asylum to be free from hardship and enable them to actively participate in this community, while also challenging discriminatory beliefs and policies.
  • Will celebrate and acknowledge the contributions refugees and people seeking asylum have made to Yarra and continue to do so, recognising these communities have inherent strengths and resilience.
Social Justice Charter
Yarra’s Social Justice Charter seeks to affirm the experiences and protect the rights of diverse groups in Yarra, including refugees and people seeking asylum.Yarra’s Social Justice Charter protects the whole community’s human rights, especially those of our more vulnerable residents, and those more likely to be at risk of discrimination. It ensures that all of Yarra’s services, policies and planning is underpinned by a practical interpretation of Victoria’s Human Rights and Responsibilities Charter.

Networks and Collaborations
Yarra has continued to co-convene the Yarra MulticulturalServices Network with CoHealth which looks broadly at settlement issues of all new arrivals with a special focus on refugees and asylum seekers. Members of this network include services with a focus on supporting migrants, refugees and people seeking asylum. The role at CoHealth (funded by Yarra) is held by a bicultural worker, preferably a resident of Yarra, which provides a lived-experience lens to this work.

Community Grants
Council has continued to provide support through its Community Grants program, assisting refugee and asylum seeker groups to access funding for community strengthening projects, including:
  • projects which support refugees and people seeking asylum;
  • community events to celebrate diverse cultural traditions, and which also include the wider community;
  • building the capacity and leadership skills of refugees and people seeking asylum; and
  • supporting partnerships between local community groups and service providers to enhance support for refugees and people seeking asylum.
Council assists CALD community groups to access the Community Grants program by providing training sessions and one-on-one support in building the groups’ capacity in grant-seeking. Council provides heavily discounted use of the Town Halls to community groups, providing opportunities to groups with limited resources to hold cultural events.

Other initiatives
  • Mayoral Taskforce Supporting People Seeking Asylum
  • Neighbourhood Houses
  • Bicultural Liaison Officer Program

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Refugee Week 2022

Refugee Week from 19-25 June 2022 is Australia’s peak annual activity to inform the public about refugees and celebrate positive contributions made by refugees to Australian society.

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