Refugee Council of Australia

2020 Program

The 2020 conference was held over two days, with a third day for side events.
You can read the 2020 program here, or download the program.
Read the Program for the 2020 conference
Size : 12.3 MB Format : PDF

Thursday 13 February - Conference Day One

9.15am – 11.00am – Welcome

Host Grace Edward, Multicultural Youth QLD, BEMAC
Welcome to Country by Uncle Che, QUT Elder-in-Residence
Indigenous Contemporary Dance by Aunty Jeanette Fabila

Welcome to Conference by Beata Ostapiej-Piatkowski Refugee Council of Australia and Associate Professor Renata Meuter, Head, School of Psychology and Counselling, QUT Faculty of Health

Opening Session: The Challenge of Change

In our opening plenary, we unpacked our 2020 theme in more detail. How can we create the change we need, given the current political context? What do we need to change within our own work and advocacy in order to do so? Our panellists spoke to these questions, bringing expertise from both the domestic and international perspectives. In doing so, they will consider where we have come since Refugee Alternatives 2019 and where we need to go.

Grace Edward,Multicultural Youth QLD, BEMAC

Muzafar Ali, Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre
Zita Ngo, Women’s Legal Services SA
Kelly Nicholls, Refugee Council of Australia

11.30am – 1.00pm – Plenary: Unpacking lived experience leadership

In this session, we discussed the meaning of “lived experience” within different contexts, and in relation to themes of representation, accountability, leadership, and solidarity. Speakers examined the principles and complexities of meaningful engagement and leadership of people with first-hand experience of a particular issue, as well as the ethical, political and practical dimensions of doing so.

Mia-lia Boua Keirnan, International Detention Coalition

Shukufa Tahiri, Refugee Council of Australia
Nishadh Rego, Jesuit Refugee Service Australia
Zaki Haidari, Community Representative
Rhanna Collins, National Indigenous Television
DominIc Golding, National Ethnic Disability Alliance Cyprien Ntezimana Rwandan Association of Queensland

1.00pm – 2.15pm – Lunchtime sessions

Conference participants debrief – Conference participants were invited to continue and reflect upon the discussion from the opening plenary in an informal lunch session hosted by Manal Younus.

Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative – Participants were invited to join the CRSI team for a discussion about community refugee sponsorship in Australia – what’s working, what needs improving and opportunities for future advocacy.

2.15pm – 3.45pm – Parallel sessions

Spotlight on regional communities

The Australian Government recently announced plans to resettle 50% of refugees in regional areas. In this session, panellists looked at what this means for both the people in question and their host communities.

Ana Pocrnjic,Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma (QPASTT)

Cr Paul Antonio Mayor, Toowoomba Regional Council
Peta Marks, Federal For Refugees
Emmanuel Mosinni, Regional Opportunities Australia Apolina Balebanga Multicultural Youth Queensland

What does ethical representation of refugees and refugee policy look like?

In this session, we examined the ethical representation of people from refugee backgrounds in the mainstream media; the implications of participating in media for people with lived experience; and the dominant and politicised narratives in mainstream media.

Shankar Kasynathan,Amnesty International Australia

Renee Dixson, Queer Sisterhood Project
Laura Stacey, Refugee Council of Australia
Stefan Armbruster, SBS World News
Grace Edward,Multicultural Youth QLD, BEMAC

How to hold the government to account

This workshop offers refugee advocates an understanding of non-judicial accountability mechanisms and their potential use in client and policy work; as well as providing an opportunity for new and seasoned advocates to share knowledge and practical action.

Raziq Qasimi, Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma

Savitri Taylor, La Trobe University
Graham Thom, Amnesty International Australia

4.00pm – 5.00pm – Ways of working: self-representation, collaboration, reconciliation

A showcase of local and national initiatives highlighting the collaboration of multiple service providers to deliver community-defined requirements.

Rnita Dacho, Refugee Council of Australia
Kelly Sibanda, Multicultural Australia

Organisations/ Initiatives
National Refugee led Advocacy and Advisory Group Harmony Alliance
Refugee Health Network Queensland
RESIG National Campaign #StudentsLikeUs Asylum Seeker and Refugee Assistance Program

5.15pm – 6.15pm – Let’s talk about mental health

This session discussed how mental health is conceptualised and addressed from different cultural perspectives and the experiences of refugee communities’ in accessing the Australian mental health system.

Annabelle Allimant,Queensland Health

Jawad Musavi, Community representative
Elizabeth Niyokushima, Community Advisory Group
Magdalena Kuyang, Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma
Mengistu Hailu, Romero Centre

5.15pm – 6.20pm – Performance – Stories of Systematic Racism

Presented by Voices of Colour.

5.15pm – 7.30pm – Welcome Event

The Refugee Council of Australia and QUT warmly welcomed all conference participants to this reception.

Friday 14 February 2020 - Conference Day Two

7.30am – 9.15am – Supporting Asia-Pacific refugee advocacy – how you can get involved?

As Australia pushes responsibility for protecting refugees back into Asia for someone else to deal with, how can you respond? The Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Working Group) hosteda breakfast side session to discuss how it is working with refugee-led advocacy networks in the region to push for policy change in Asia.

9.30am – 10.00am – Welcome to Day Two

Grace Edward, Multicultural Youth QLD, BEMAC
Manal Younus, Spoken word poet, public speaker, writer

10.00am – 11.30am Plenary: Australia and the Asia-Pacific

This session will investigate the most effective role Australia can play in boosting opportunities for refugee protection in the Asia Pacific.

Arash Bordbar, Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network

Guled Mire, Community leader, advocate, writer
Hafsar Tameesuddin, Human rights defender and activist
Evan Jones, Asylum Access Malaysia (via video conference)
Hayso Thako, Asia Pacific Network of Refugees (via video conference)

11.30am – 12.00pm – Queer Displacements: working towards safety and inclusion of LGBTIQ+ people seeking asylum and refugees

This session will present on the current challenges and barriers for protection and integration that persist in Australia for LGBTIQ+ people seeking asylum and refugees. It will present the Canberra Statement on the access to safety and justice for LGBTIQ+ asylum seekers and refugees as a tool to build solidarity and improve support.

Tina Dixson, PhD Candidate, Queer Sisterhood Project
Renee Dixson, PhD Candidate, Queer Sisterhood Project
Facilitated by Azlan AP

12.00pm – 1.15pm – Lunchtime sessions

Youth Caucus – This was an opportunity to connect and network with young representatives from across Australia.
ASRA – This information session was hosted by the Asylum Seeker and Refugee Assistance (ASRA) Program team. It was an opportunity to meet the ASRA team, ask questions and learn more about their collaborative approach to support people seeking asylum through outreach hubs in Brisbane and regional areas.

1.15pm – 2.45pm – Parallel Sessions

Building communities for change

Communities play a crucial role in supporting successful settlement. This session explores the partnerships between local governments, community organisations and local residents that aim to foster a welcoming and inclusive community.

Om Dhungel, Refugee Communities Advocacy Network NSW

Louise Aubin, UNHCR
Rebecca Langton, Refugee Council of Australia
Nick McGuire, Logan City Council
Shankar Kasynathan, My New Neighbour
Daniel Zingifuaboro, Council of South Sudanese Communities Queensland

My transition to work: a refugee perspective

Speakers in this session share their experiences of re-building or beginning their careers in Australia.

Mireille Kayeye, Jesuit Social Services

Dominic Golding, National Ethnic Disability Alliance Yama Choezom Settlement Services International Amal Eskifeh, Community Representative Mashael Suliman, Community Representative

Navigating the criminal justice system

This session will explore the experience of navigating the criminal justice system for refugee young people and their families. It will discuss what communities require to access justice and how they can be supported. It will learn from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander’s journey to accessing justice.

Zita Ngor Women’s Legal Services SA

Amiel Nubaha, Rwandan Association of Queensland Inc Katy Welch The Humanitarian Group
Daniel Daylight, Just Reinvest NSW
Isaiah Sines, Just Reinvest NSW

3.00pm – 4.00pm – Closing session

Speakers will share their reflections from conference week, then collate and organise the session outcomes to inform our actions and next steps for 2020.

Grace Edward, Multicultural Youth QLD, BEMAC

Shabnam Safa, National Refugee led Advocacy and Advisory Group Rebecca Eckard Refugee Council of Australia
Kwame Selormey, Melaleuca Refugee Centre

4.00pm – Conference Close

Additional Events

The Spot

The Spot is an interactive breakout space where delegates can contribute their ideas, comments and questions on the conference sessions.
Open daily during the conference.

Wednesday 12 February, 9.00am – 4.00pm

QUT Collaborative Conversations: Co-creating a Research and Action Agenda

Hosted by QUT Faculty of Health on the Gardens Point Campus

The aim of Collaborative Conversations was to gather individuals passionate about making a difference in the area of forced displacement. The event gather diverseed stakeholders to engage in a participatory day of co-creating a research and action agenda to improve our understanding of key issues in order to inform policies, programs, and promoting positive community experiences.

The morning sessions focused on identifying critical issues and the research and action strategies needed to address those concerns. The aim is to work collaboratively across key stakeholders (e.g., community members and leaders, policy/advocacy organisations, the higher education and non-profit sectors) to discuss the challenges and opportunities for collaborative research agendas. Mapping exercises helped to identify key issues and recommendations for collaboration will be formed. The afternoon sessions focusedd on building strategies and momentum to advance this agenda, including facilitated conversations on media and messaging, and the role of artistry for advocacy and story-telling.

9.00am – 5.00pm – Movement Networking Day

The Refugee Council of Australia’s annual get-together for campaigners and advocates from across the refugee movement. This was an opportunity to hear updates from different groups; meet others working in the space and identify key issues emerging over the next 12 months.

Thursday 14 February – Performance – Stories of systematic racism

Stories of systematic racism unravels the meaning of systematic racism using story, dance, rap and song. It uses art to explore the social and institutional powers that support the oppression of a “racial other” in Australia. This performance combines both personal story and well researched statistical facts that will leave the audience with a basic emotional and intellectual understanding of how racism operates Voices of Colour, a Brisbane-based youth led collective that creates spaces for young artists from diverse backgrounds to share poetry, rap, dance and any other forms of creative expression.

Saturday 15 February – Annual Australian Refugee Dialogue

The National Refugee led Advisory and Advocacy Group (NRAAG) hosted their first signature 2020 Annual Australian Refugee Dialogue for people of refugee backgrounds and people seeking asylum.

The NRAAG is a refugee led entity that envisions to create spaces, platforms and strong voices led by former refugees, people from refugee like backgrounds and people seeking asylum in key decision making tables, public & media discourse.