Refugee Council of Australia
Two women in traditional dress smiling at the camera for Refugee Week 2023.
Home > Media > Refugee Council of Australia kicks off Refugee Week celebrations

Refugee Council of Australia kicks off Refugee Week celebrations

To celebrate Refugee Week, which runs from 18-24 June 2023, the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) has coordinated a range of activities giving voice to refugees and people seeking asylum in Australia who continue to make a valuable contribution to our community.

Refugee Week is an internationally celebrated event which began in Australia and focuses on bettering understanding of the refugee experience. It is a global movement with events held in the UK, Greece, Malta, Germany, Hong Kong and Taiwan. One of RCOA’s key events is our Face-to-Face program, which has more than forty engagements across the country throughout the month of June.

The Face-to-Face program is a program for schools, community groups, government and corporates nationally. The program sees RCOA’s National Refugee Ambassadors share their personal journeys, challenges and triumphs with a range of audiences.

We also have more than twenty refugee groups from countries including Iran, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ukraine and Afghanistan who shared their stories as part of our Refugee Week digital campaign. We invite you to read their stories and discover how they envision this year’s theme, “Finding Freedom”.

The campaign was led by Adelaide-based photographer and filmmaker Muzafar Ali, a Hazara refugee and human rights activist from Afghanistan.

For a list of interviewees and comments on Refugee Week and for more on our National Refugee Ambassadors, see the list provided below.

For further comment or to arrange an interview, contact our media team on 0432 809 244 or at


Adama Kamara, Refugee Council of Australia Deputy CEO
Available for interview: call Elly Kohistani on 0432 809 244

“Refugee Week is a time for reflection and celebration. An opportunity for everyone to do something positive for refugees, people seeking asylum and displaced people. It’s also a time, for us to think about what more could be done to improve their circumstances. We all have a role in welcoming refugees to our community and ensuring they are treated fairly and humanely.

National Refugee Ambassadors
Available for interview: call Elly Kohistani on 0432 809 244.

Shankar Kasynathan, Commissioner
“My father used to be a teacher. He taught philosophy at a university in Sri Lanka. He was questioned on the notorious Fourth Floor of Sri Lanka’s Criminal Investigation Department – reputedly a torture facility, with rumours of people falling from windows. Thankfully my father survived. That was thirty years ago. Over the last fifteen years I have been dedicated to building more inclusive and welcoming neighbourhoods, schools and workplaces”.

Abang Anade Othow, Teacher, Author and Advocate
“I am a survivor of life. My long journey began at the age of five years old in the war-torn country of Sudan. I arrived in Australia as an 18-year-old with big hopes and dreams. A settlement organisation helped me find accommodation in a women’s shelter. With their support I connected with incredible people who helped me settle in Australia and reunited with my mother after more than a decade apart”.

Assadullah Khurrami, Team Leader
“I arrived in Australia by boat in 2010 and I spent a year in Immigration Detention Centres in Christmas Island and in Curtin Western Australia. When the civil war began in 1992 in Kabul, we experienced the worst of this war; our house was hit by rocket shelling, I lost a brother, my mother and I were severely injured”.

Simon Shaheen, Engineer
“I am a former refugee from Syria and have resettled in Australia in 2015. I fled with my family from the war back in 2013, when the situation was already catastrophic. We have been incredibly blessed and fortunate to escape that harrowing, near-death experience entirely intact—though burdened with traumatic memories”

Deena Yako, Director of Community Engagement, Refugee Council of Australia
“There are so many brilliant young people with beautiful minds that can conquer the world if they’re given the right opportunities and are supported through their settlement journey. Channeling my own experiences as a refugee from Iraq, I am dedicated to supporting refugees and asylum seekers by assisting in amplifying their voices, and most importantly believe that change can happen through acceptance and education”.

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