A Refugee Welcome Zone is a Local Government Area which has made a commitment in spirit to welcoming refugees into the community, upholding the human rights of refugees, demonstrating compassion for refugees and enhancing cultural and religious diversity in the community. The Refugee Welcome Zone initiative began in June 2002 as part of Refugee Week celebrations.
This public commitment is also an acknowledgment of the tremendous contributions refugees have made to Australian society in the fields of medicine, science, engineering, sport, education and the arts. By making this Declaration, it is hoped that local government will be encouraged in their continuing efforts to support the men, women and children who make the difficult journey to Australia to seek our protection.
The contribution of local councils
The contribution of Australia’s local councils to welcoming humanitarian arrivals has been documented in a research paper which sets out the benefits of becoming a Refugee Welcome Zone and highlights examples of best-practice from some of the local councils.
The importance of local government in building strong, socially cohesive communities has led the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government to develop an on-line interactive resource for Councils, Building Social Cohesion in our Communities, which is aimed at assisting Councils understand and engage with their communities.