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.
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.
How can Refugee Welcome Zones support refugees?
There are many things that your Local Government Area can do to welcome refugees to your community:
- Develop a Local Government policy relating to refugees and asylum seekers or review existing policies.
- Offer funding for community-based projects which support the settlement of refugees.
- Hold community picnics and gatherings to encourage families from different backgrounds and community organisations to meet.
- Build partnerships and work collaboratively with local community groups and service providers to enhance support for refugees settling in your area.
- Organise an event during Refugee Week, such as a street fair of festival.
- Host a community meeting with newly arrived refugees and guest speakers from refugee support organisations to find out how your Council can best support refugees in your community.
- Hold a multicultural film festival.
- Coordinate with local libraries in the area to develop an English tutoring program for newly arrived refugees.
- Liaise with the Red Cross to run information sessions for newly arrived refugees who have been separated from family members and relatives.
- Hold a public forum to enable guest speakers from refugee backgrounds to share their stories.
- Advocate for greater supports to be provided by state and federal governments for refugees.
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.
How has your organisation, community or council welcomed refugees?
Send in your past and upcoming events and initiatives to firstname.lastname@example.org We’d like to hear about your program or event, big or small!