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Home > Our community > Refugee Welcome Zones > Refugee Welcome Zone National Forum: 8 July 2021

Refugee Welcome Zone National Forum: 8 July 2021

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, Parramatta campus (and also 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 forum, either in person, or online.


MC – Simon Shahin

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 

Western 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, 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 two key LGAs

Atem Atem & Holly Corpe, Local Government Multicultural Network; Yamane FayedMulticultural Women’s Hub. 

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 Innovative ways local government can support people seeking asylum

Cr Angela Long, Mayor, City of Greater Dandenong and Marek Krol, Mayoral Taskforce Supporting People Seeking AsylumShabaz Fattah, Darebin City Council  

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) have been cut dramatically. City of Greater Dandenong discuss their response, the work of the Mayoral Taskforce, bringing over 30 Mayors together to coordinate joint advocacy, and practical solutions, to address this urgent need. 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 Regional settlement: challenges and opportunities 

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

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-3.30pmRefugees rejuvenating and connecting communities’:  How the Hazara community has transformed Port Adelaide-Enfield LGA

Yunus Noori, Hazara community Port Adelaide Enfield & Professor Branka Krivokapic-skoko, Charles Sturt University. 

Refugees are very often portrayed as a cost and burden to local communities, but their positive contributions are significant. Hazara refugees from Afghanistan have transformed a once-declining area of Adelaide, with implications for the wider community. ‘Refugees Rejuvenating and Connecting Communities’ analyses 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, 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.


If you require an invoice, or have any other 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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