Refugee Week, Australia’s peak annual activity to inform the public about refugees and asylum seekers and celebrate the positive contributions made by refugees, was launched at the Granville Town on Saturday June 14.
The launch was coordinated by the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA), the NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS) and Settlement Services International (SSI).
The keynote speech was delivered by Merrylands local Ali Ali, a former refugee who fled the Taliban in Afghanistan and arrived in Australia in 2001 as a 17-year-old asylum seeker with no English.
Ali’s speech expanded on the Refugee Week theme “Restoring Hope”, recounting how his journey for safety began with danger as well as hope for a better future.
After being detained at the remote Curtin Immigration Detention Centre in Western Australia and experiencing the uncertainty of life on a Temporary Protection Visa, Ali enrolled at Holroyd High School and later continued his studies, graduating with a Master’s Degree.
The Refugee Week launch also featured speeches by RCOA President Phil Glendenning, and SSI Chair Kamalle Dabboussy as well as the presentation of the NSW Humanitarian Awards.
RCOA chief executive officer said the launch was an important opportunity for the Western Sydney community to celebrate the achievements of refugees in local communities and remind people of the challenges faced by asylum seekers living in the community and refugees throughout the world.
“Since Federation, Australia has welcomed more than 800,000 humanitarian arrivals, who have played a vital role in building vibrant, diverse and supportive communities.
“The decision to launch Refugee Week in Granville reflects the positive impact refugee settlement is playing in the social, economic and community life of Australia’s third-largest economy.”
For further information about Refugee Week (Sunday 15 June to Saturday 21 June), local events, Ambassador profiles and more, visit www.refugeeweek.org.au