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Hundreds of refugees, organisations, institutions, refugee communities, academics, advocates and experts will come together in Sydney on the 22-24 February for the inaugural Refugee Alternatives Conference, convened by the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) and hosted by UNSW Sydney as part of its Grand Challenge on Refugees and Migrants.

The Conference, which runs from 22-23 February at the UNSW Kensington campus, will focus on improving policy, practice and public support for people seeking asylum and those from refugee backgrounds.  The topics to be discussed will include displacement, protection, cooperation, wellbeing, resilience, education, advocacy and unity.

A key element of the Conference is a focus on the expertise of people who have lived experience of seeking asylum or being a refugee. Representatives of a variety of refugee communities will attend as delegates, with their costs supported by generous sponsorship from many supporters.  The Refugee Communities Advocacy Network (RCAN), an organisation of people from many refugee communities who have come together to campaign on refugee justice, will officially launch as an independent network at the event.

Keynote speakers at the Conference include Munjed Al Muderis, a trained orthopaedic surgeon, human rights activist and former refugee; and Gillian Triggs, Emeritus Professor and President of the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Paul Power, RCOA CEO, said; ‘We are very excited to be holding the first ever Refugee Alternatives Conference this year, which will bring together refugee communities, academics and people with practical and policy experience to explore alternatives to current refugee policy and develop sustainable solutions to one of the global community’s great modern challenges. The Refugee Alternatives Conference is particularly timely given the scale of the challenge the world now faces and Australia’s commitment to the Global Compact on displacement at the UN Summit last year. 

‘We’re delighted to have representatives of refugee communities on every panel and attending as delegates, to ensure that people with lived experience of seeking asylum are at the front and centre of this debate.’  

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