The Refugee Council of Australia, along with key organisations and communities in the refugee sector, will support the launch of the first-ever multi-party Parliamentary Friends of Refugees Group at Parliament House, Canberra, on Monday, 20 March 2023.
The group has been formed from a multi-party collective of Members of Parliament and Senators who share a vision of creating a country that is more welcoming to refugees.
The chairs of the group are Kate Thwaites MP (Labor), Hon Dan Tehan MP (Liberal), Senator Nick McKim (Greens) and Zoe Daniel MP (Independent).
Members of this newly-formed group will help inform other Parliamentarians about the situation facing refugees and people seeking asylum and promote fairer, more welcoming policies for those who seek protection in Australia.
Senator Nick McKim says how we respond to refugees will be one of the defining factors that shapes our world this century.
“The Parliamentary Friends of Refugees Group has a critical role to play in improving Australia’s public policy to protect the rights of people who have been displaced, and to provide durable solutions to their displacement.
“I look forward to working across political lines to ensure that the voices of refugees are heard in Parliament House, and that the lived experience of refugees informs decision-making and public policy in Australia,” Senator McKim said.
So far, 49 Parliamentarians have joined the group.
Mr Tehan seconds these sentiments of welcoming and supporting refugees.
“I look forward to engaging with the refugee community through the Parliamentary Friends of Refugees and working with my parliamentary colleagues on this issue,” Mr Tehan said.
Ms Thwaites says coming together is an essential milestone.
“It’s important we come together across the Parliament to hear the stories and experiences of refugees, celebrate their contribution to our country and highlight the opportunities for us to do more to support them,” Ms Thwaites said.
Monday’s launch at Parliament House will be hosted by the four co-chairs. As well as raising awareness about the newly-formed group, the event will also focus on the issues faced by refugees, notably the need to increase humanitarian intake.
Co-chair Zoe Daniel MP says this is an issue she will be turning to for other Parliamentarians to come on board.
“I seek to help support understanding of issues affecting refugees and asylum seekers and to be a strong voice for refugees and their families who are looking for a safe place to call home.”
In 2022 there were 32.5 million refugees, more than 2 million of whom were identified by the UN refugee agency UNHCR as being in urgent need of resettlement this year. While Australia’s two major political parties have varied over the past 20 or so years in their policy approaches to people seeking asylum, both Liberal-National Coalition and Labor governments have shown strong support for refugee resettlement over the past 75 years.
The event will also include speakers from refugee backgrounds, including Captain and Goalkeeper of the Afghanistan Women’s Soccer team Fatima Yousufi, Deputy Chair of the National Refugee-led Advisory and Advocacy Group Shukufa Tahiri, National Refugee Ambassador Abang Anade Othow, and CEO of the Refugee Council of Australia Paul Power.
Speakers will be available for comment at the conclusion of the event.
For media enquiries please contact RCOA on 0488 035 535.