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As a key part of its advocacy, the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) supports individuals with lived refugee experience to take part in conversations that affect them and their communities. Every year, RCOA sponsors leaders in refugee communities to attend annual consultations in Geneva between the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and NGOs. The 2018 meetings will take place on 27-29 June 2018.

This year, RCOA is proud to support Simon Sang Hre and Bernice Kamikazi who have been selected as recipients for the John Gibson Refugee Community Leadership Grant.

Simon speaking into microphoneSimon is a member of the Chin community in Melbourne. Before coming to Australia, he was an active leader of his community in Malaysia. His practical experiences with Chin refugee communities and human rights organisations and the International Rescue Committee in Kuala Lumpur give him an excellent understanding of International Human Rights and Refugee Law. In Australia, Simon continues to be a voice for his community, and has been a volunteer with the Australian Chin Relief Committee since 2015. At the meeting of the UNHCR in Geneva this year, Simon wishes to bring the plight of current refugees living in India and Malaysia and the issues facing Rohingya refugees to the world’s attention.

Bernice came to Australia in 2014 from Burundi. She has a strong passion for advocacy for street children and refugees, particularly those in the Great Lakes region of Africa. She has dedicated many years to research in this field, which has allowed her to build more effective solutions through a range of avenues, including her work with the Red Cross and the Association for Peace and Human Rights. In Australia, she continues to contribute to her passions, and she has worked with the Burundian community in Sydney, the Campbelltown Uniting Church and the Asylum Seekers Centre. She hopes that the opportunity to attend UNHCR meetings in Geneva will be a stepping stone in improving the situation of all refugees, but particularly the women and children living in camps in her homeland.

Find out more about the John Gibson Refugee Community Leadership Grant.