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17 Jun 2022

Media releases

‘Spirit of Welcome’ brings Inner West locals and new communities together to celebrate Refugee Week

The Community Refugee Welcome Centre in Callan Park, Lilyfield, will celebrate World Refugee Day, Sunday, June 19, through its family-friendly event “Spirit of Welcome”.

Marking Refugee Week 2022, Spirit of Welcome is a full-day public program of activities led by newly arrived artists. The day will feature live music, dance, film screenings, creative workshops, arts and crafts markets and multicultural food.

Centre Coordinator Moones Mansoubi said, “Spirit of Welcome will showcase the cultural and artistic contributions that refugees bring to their new home. “Our event will showcase the Community Refugee Welcome Centre as a creative art hub for newly arrived people to flourish and enhance Inner West’s place as one of the most welcoming, thriving, progressive and diverse communities in NSW.”

The event is a partnership between Settlement Services International (SSI) and Inner West Council, funded by the 2021 Inner West Arts Projects Grant. Shervin Mirzeinali, Music Director and Doctoral candidate at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, facilitated six workshops at the Community Refugee Welcome Centre for five talented musicians who will perform at the event.   

Mr Mirzeinali said the workshops provided a platform for emerging musicians of refugee backgrounds to transfer their skills and knowledge to a broader audience. 

“Music does not discriminate among backgrounds; this workshop helps performers have a sense of belonging to the culture they left behind and also creates an opportunity for a new palate that embraces diverse artistic views.”

Leading musician Hamid Rezvani will perform in the band and has been playing the ‘Daf’ – a traditional frame drum from Iran – for over 20 years and said he was looking forward to getting on stage.

“I started playing Daf when I was a child in Isfahan, and since then, I’ve performed in many concerts and events in Iran and Turkey.

“I’m looking forward to introducing this traditional instrument and music to the Australian community.”

Afghan refugee, lawyer, journalist, and women’s rights activist, Rabia Johini, arrived in Australia after the Taliban takeover and has been supported by SSI during her resettlement journey. Ms Johini is sponsored by the Centre to produce a short film which will be screened at the event and said that she was looking forward to sharing her film with the wider community.

“I really liked the concept of wellbeing, and I believe in living a good life, we should create a good feeling and share it with people around us to enhance the wellbeing of others.

“I am happy to be given this opportunity to make a short film on wellbeing, a much-needed concept for all humans, particularly people who had to flee their countries”.

Former refugee and Assyrian singer and Oud player, George Karam, found his path to integration in music and will perform at the event. With a career spanning 30 years, George has performed in Syria, Lebanon, UAE, Dubai and Abu Dhabi and said that events like Spirit of Welcome help give refugees a sense of belonging in their new homes.

“When I arrived in Australia back in 2018 with my wife and daughter, we had to start our lives from the beginning, and forming new connections through refugee support groups like the SSI and the wider communities have a positive impact on resettlement in my new country Australia.”

Ms Mansoubi said that the diversity of music, dance, short films and workshops creates a thriving arts hub and is an excellent example of the successful collaboration between the Welcome Centre, Inner West Council and SSI.

“I would like to acknowledge Inner West Council for supporting us bring the event to life.”

The Community Refugee Welcome Centre has been operating since March 2017, and was established as a partnership between SSI, Inner West Council and the Catholic Diocese of Sydney. TAFE NSW and Inner West local organisations have also partnered and contributed significantly to its programs.


  • Persian dance performances 
  • Spirit of Welcome band (live music performance) 
  • George Karam (Assyrian live music)
  • African dance performance
  • Arts workshops
  • Film screenings

For more information, visit: 

Media enquiries: SSI Senior Communications Officer Rebeka Selmeczki; 0468 998 300

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