This year’s Refugee Alternatives Conference will bring together hundreds of people from across Australia and beyond to discuss refugee policy and build solutions and alternatives, just weeks before the general election will be held.
The conference, co-hosted by the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) and the Migration and Refugee Research Network (MARRNet), is unique in its strong focus on refugee self-representation.
RCOA CEO Paul Power said “We’re very excited about Refugee Alternatives, which will prioritise the voices of changemakers and community representatives with lived experience as refugees. We anticipate that over 65 speakers will participate, of which over half will be from asylum, refugee or stateless backgrounds.”
Juma Piri Piri, from South Sudan, is traveling from Tasmania to take part in a workshop on refugee self-representation. “Events like this are really important for balancing out the narratives that we hear” he said. “In a society which is highly reliant on media, we only ever hear one side of the story. RAPPP provides people from refugee backgrounds with a platform by which they can share their experiences with others.”
The Conference continues the work of the Refugee Council of Australia in building momentum around refugee self-representation. It follows the first ever Global Summit of Refugees which took place last June in Geneva and brought together 72 delegates from 27 countries and the Asia Pacific Summit which followed in October.
The Refugee Alternatives Conference is in its third year, following sell-out events in Sydney (2017) and Melbourne (2018). This year, it will be held at the University of South Australia and will feature 65 speakers and 13 parallel sessions. Panels and plenaries will cover topics of displacement; protection; cooperation; wellbeing; resilience; education; advocacy; and unity. Attendees will also be treated to an array of live performance including theatre, spoken word and hip hop.
The conference will bring together participants from refugee backgrounds, academia, service provision, advocacy, policymaking, government and more. Together, they will work towards achieving the Platform for Change, a vision for a fair, humane refugee policy that has been developed by hundreds of people from across the refugee movement over several years. Promoting the Platform for Change and turning this vision into a reality is one of the top priorities for the Refugee Council this year.
“This year is particularly important” stated Mr. Power, “given its timing on the eve of the general election. It is an exciting opportunity for the refugee movement to come together, led by people with lived refugee experience, and seize this opportunity to ensure positive policy outcomes for refugees and people seeking asylum. We know that public opinion is supportive of these communities, and the next government must reflect that.”
RCOA’s annual Refugee Rights Movement Strategy Day will take place the day after the conference. This will bring together campaigners and refugee community members to mobilise for change and build a shared strategy for the election and the 6-12 months that follow.
Refugee Alternatives: Improving Policy, Practice and Public Support will take place on 19-20 February at the University of South Australia, Adelaide.
To attend or sponsor the conference, click here.
To attend the strategy day, click here.
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