What is the Refugee Communities Advocacy Network?
The Refugee Communities Advocacy Network is a network for people from refugee backgrounds to gather to discuss, prioritise and advocate on local, state, national and international issues of greatest concern to them. RCOA invites people who are passionate and keen to engage in advocacy with local council, state and federal ministers and international bodies such as UNHCR to join the network. RCAN advocates on a range of issues, including:
- Australia’s humanitarian program, including family reunion
- Settlement issues in Australia such as employment, education or housing
- Australia’s asylum and detention policies
- International issues such as refugee protection around the world
RCOA believes refugee communities play a vital role in advocating on issues that impact them, and acknowledges the wealth of knowledge, skill, and experience these communities have. We believe successful advocacy relies on the participation and leadership of community groups.
This network is only for people from a refugee or asylum seeker background. RCOA is keen to have participation from a wide range of people, including those who are formal community leaders as well as others who are passionate about advocacy. RCOA particularly invites women and young people to participate.
Examples of the activities the RCAN network undertakes include:
- Meeting state and federal MPs and ministers to raise issues of concern
- Raising issues on local and national media, including radio, newspapers and the internet
- Participating in consultations held by state and federal government bodies
- Writing letters to relevant MPs and ministers on issues of concern
- Speaking at local events
In 2016, two RCAN conferences were held in NSW and in Melbourne. The Sydney conference was held in partnership with NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors. You can read the conference report here.
The Melbourne report is also available below.
You can also read two of the presentations made at the conferences. The first is by Devi Ghimire (President, Bhutanese Community in Australia), who looked at the contributions the Bhutanese community have made in Australia, and the issues the community faces in settlement. Devi also put forward proposals to address these issues. These included looking at the possibility of community-led labor hire businesses and the importance of funding for refugee community associations.
The second presentation, by Gabirel Yak, explored the educational barriers facing South Sudanese communities.
Read Educational barriers for South Sudanese communities