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Home > News > Refugee Welcome Zone National Forum – 8 July (via Zoom)

Refugee Welcome Zone National Forum – 8 July (via Zoom)

We are excited to announce the 2021 Refugee Welcome Zone National Forum to be held on 8 July 2021, in partnership with the Whitlam Institute, at Western Sydney University, via Zoom.

The 2021 Refugee Welcome Zone Forum will be a key opportunity for councils, practitioners, and community to come together and explore the significant and often unacknowledged, role local government can play in assisting refugee settlement, and promoting community harmony.

Book tickets here!

We encourage all those interested in the building welcoming communities to attend this online forum.


MC – Simon Shahin

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We are fortunate to have the multi-talented Simon Shahin, former refugee from Syria, speaker in RCOA’s Face to Face program, and engineering student, as our MC for the Forum.



9am Welcome to country  – Uncle Harry Allie

Uncle_harry_picWestern Sydney University Elder, Uncle Harry shares his insights on welcoming and building bridges between First Nations and refugee communities.



9.30am-10am Local government as key actors in welcoming refugees

Adrian_edwards_pic Adrian Edwards, UNHCR Multi-Country representative based in Canberra. 

Cities are at the forefront in pioneering new approaches to welcoming refugees. Adrian Edwards, the UN Refugee Agency’s, new representative in Australia, will give his insights on the global need and importance of local government in terms of receiving, including and offering opportunities to refugees.

10am-11am Differing approaches to supporting settlement in Fairfield and Cumberland

Img_ _ minHolly_picYamane_pic

Marie mc





Atem Atem & Holly Corpe, Local Government Multicultural Network; Yamane Fayed, Multicultural Women’s Hub; Marie Saliba, Core Community Services.

Fairfield and Cumberland LGAs have the highest number of refugees and people seeking asylum in NSW, respectively. The Local Government Multicultural Network will present on place-based approaches utilised in Fairfield, compared to project-based approaches in Cumberland, including the “My Little Business” project, supporting refugee/recently arrived migrant women to establish small businesses.

11.30am -12.30pm The Mayoral Taskforce Supporting People Seeking Asylum and innovative ways local government can support people seeking asylum


  Cr Angela Long, Mayor  & Marek Krol, City of Greater Dandenong; Shabaz Fattah, Darebin City Council.
Photo_ shabaz fattah

Many people seeking asylum, including thousands of children, have no safety net as they cannot access social security benefits, and the federally funded Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS) has been cut dramatically. The Mayoral Taskforce, brings together over 30 Mayors to coordinate joint advocacy, as well as practical solutions, to address this urgent need, which was exacerbated by the Covid pandemic. Darebin Council will also share their advocacy for people transferred to Australia for medical care from Nauru and Papua New Guinea, who have been held in locked hotel detention.

1.30pm- 2.30pm Settling refugees in regional Australia: challenges and opportunities 

 _talia_headshots_sh _ Paula_ben_david_picEmmanuel_musoni_pic





Talia Stump, Associate Director of Settlement, Multicultural NSW, Emmanuel Musoni, GLAPD , Paula Ben David, Work + Stay SSI, Cathy Lawson, Australian National Manager, Regional Opportunities Australia.

Regional settlement can provide valuable opportunities for refugees to rebuild their lives in smaller, often more welcoming communities, whilst declining populations and labour shortages make migrants particularly attractive to regional communities. This panel brings together the expertise and experience of three key organisations working in this space.

2.30pm-3.30pm Refugees rejuvenating and connecting communities:  How the Hazara community has transformed Port Adelaide-Enfield



Yunus Noori, Hazara community Port Adelaide & Prof Branka Krivokapic-skoko, Charles Sturt University 

Refugees are often portrayed as a cost and burden to local communities, yet the contributions they make are significant. Hazara refugees from Afghanistan have transformed a once-declining area of Adelaide, with lessons for the wider community. Recent research ‘Refugees Rejuvenating and Connecting Communities’ presents the social, cultural and economic contributions of Hazara humanitarian migrants in the Port Adelaide-Enfield area.

3.30pm-4pm Closing remarks and way forward

Adama_kamara_picAdama Kamara, Deputy CEO, Refugee Council of Australia.

Adama Kamara joined RCOA in 2021, following many years working with local government. She will draw together key themes emerging from the Forum and outline how we can move forward together to achieve best outcomes for refugees and communities as a whole.


For enquiries, please contact Rebecca Langton on

*Please note the Refugee Welcome Zone Forum is a side event to our main annual Refugee Alternatives conference, which is on 6 & 7 July.

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