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#YearOfWelcome: January Action

Create a message of welcome for people arriving to Australia as refugees

Every year, around 12,000 people arrive in Australia as part of our Refugee & Humanitarian Program. They are settling in to rebuild their lives here. That’s 12,000 people who are learning their way around their new city or town, connecting with their local school, doctor and grocer, finding work and thriving in local communities.

They’re people like Rnita.

Rnita and her family arrived in Sydney in 2015, having seen their home country of Syria torn apart. Rnita was a primary school teacher in Syria and risked her life for nearly two years traveling across ISIS-held territory in order to still show up for her pupils. Finally, she and her family, who had taken part in the anti-Assad revolution, were forced to flee for their lives.

They were daunted by the prospect of building a new life in Australia, where they did not speak the language and had no connections.  “I had a panic attack at the airport because I couldn’t speak any English”, she said.  Fortunately for Rnita and her family, they happened to arrive during Refugee Week, Australia’s annual national celebration of refugee communities.

“When I arrived in Bankstown I was welcomed with open arms,” she says.  “I’m forever grateful for the love the Australian people have shown me.”

For Rnita, the idea of welcoming refugees is particularly poignant.  Being greeted as they were, she says, was a vital reassurance when they most needed it, and helped them to start off on the right foot.  Four and a half years later, Rnita is thriving.  She is studying, works at the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA), volunteers in her spare time helping people who have arrived as refugees, and recently got married.

We want to make sure that everyone gets the same welcome that Rnita and her family received when they arrived in Sydney.

 January’s action is to send a simple message to people seeking asylum and refugees, in Australia and further afield: You are welcome.

So, your January action We want you to send a message of welcome to people who have recently arrived in Australia, and we are partnering with local settlement services to ensure those people see and hear your message.  

You can share your hopes for people’s new lives here, and the community that they are part of. You can share your own story of arriving in Australia, or anywhere else in the world, and what helped you during this time.  

The message can be in video form or an image.  

So how to do it?  

  1. Create the image or video – Using your phone take a photo of yourself with a sign with a message of welcome OR create a short video with you sharing your message of welcome;
  2. Upload it to Twitter – upload your image or video to Twitter using the hashtag #YearOfWelcome – and share why you believe in an inviting and generous Australia. If you don’t have Twitter, email us your photo or video media@refugeecouncil.org.au
  3. We will share it – to spread the word we share a selection of videos and edit them together into one long message of welcome that will be shared via our member organisations with newly arrived refugees 

Some examples of what you can do:

Here are some helpful resources to help you complete this action:

Join the movement!

We need you to show our government that Australia cares about refugees. Help us by joining the movement so we can protect refugees, not punish them.

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