Help Gazan families at risk of homelessness in Australia. Donate to our Crisis Response Fund.

Refugee Week 2023

Finding Freedom: Refugees and their road to economic independence

The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) has named SSI as a key event partner for Refugee Week 2023, which takes place on June 18-24, 2023. This year’s theme is ‘Finding Freedom’, and SSI’s focus is on promoting economic freedom and addressing barriers that hold back the economic participation of refugees in Australia.

Finding economic freedom

Everyone should have the opportunity to achieve their full potential.

Refugees and migrants should be given a fair go to use their professional skills, experience and qualifications to build lives and livelihoods in Australia that are productive and fulfilling.

We share their experiences, celebrate their contributions and strengthen our resolve to support their settlement success.

“It wasn’t easy to get a job. After all this experience I had in my country – 15 years – I had to start from scratch.”

Be part of a community that stands for equal opportunities for everyone.

Enhancing Australia’s economic productivity

Using the untapped skills of refugees and migrants in Australia is not only a matter of fairness but also a smart economic decision.

To enhance Australia’s economic productivity, it is necessary to address the chronic underutilisation of skilled migrants and refugees.

By harnessing the established technical expertise and experience of refugees and migrants, we can address the unprecedented skills shortage in Australia. This will contribute billions to the Australian economy while plugging critical skills gaps.

Unleashing refugee and migrant talent is good for newcomers, good for business, and good for Australia. It’s a win-win-win.

“I have dedicated almost 20 years of my life to my profession – I cannot leave it behind. I dream of working again as a dentist, but it’s incredibly difficult.”

Billion Dollar Benefit

During Refugee Week 2023, we launched the ‘Billion Dollar Benefit’; with our partners, a report that presents a roadmap for unleashing the economic potential of refugees and migrants.

This roadmap recommends five barrier-breaking solutions to implement by 2025 to tap into the proven technical expertise and experience of refugees and migrants. Implementing these solutions can add billions to the Australian economy and plug critical skills gaps, while also providing sustainable employment pathways for newcomers. It’s a winning triple dividend.

This report is based on the insights and views of more than 50 experts who attended the Refugee and Migrant Skills and Jobs Summit held at Parliament House in March 2023. Importantly it also consulted various refugees and migrants to incorporate lived experience into the recommendations.

We launched the roadmap at World Refugee Day Fair in Canberra on June 20.


Billion Dollar Benefit Report
Billion Dollar Benefit Report
Billion Dollar Benefit Flyer
Billion Dollar Benefit Flyer

“At the end of the day, we are going to open our own business, just like I have done. It is the employers who are missing out on seizing the opportunities that come with hiring us.”

What is Refugee Week?

Refugee Week shines a spotlight on the extraordinary people who have come to Australia seeking safety, connection and a new life for themselves and their family.

We share their experiences, celebrate their contributions and strengthen our resolve to support their settlement success.

Together with our partners, SSI is privileged to support refugees’ journeys and enable them to start a new life.

How long has Refugee Week been celebrated in Australia?

The first Refugee Week events were organised in Sydney in 1986 by Austcare. RCOA has been involved in organising Refugee Week since 1987 and has been responsible for the national coordination of the week since 2004.

“I aspire to get back into the medical field but first I must get some experience working in Australia and with government. It’s challenging but each day I learn new skills.”

What’s on for Refugee Week 2023

SSI events

  • June 18: Spirit of Welcome (Community Refugee Welcome Centre, NSW). More detail.
  • June 19: Refugee Week Art Exhibition (Police Headquarters, Parramatta, NSW). Invite only.
  • June 20: Refugee Day Fair (Lawns of Parliament House, Canberra). More detail.
  • June 20: Homelands Arts Tour event (Queensland Multicultural Centre, Brisbane, Queensland). More detail.
  • June 21: Homelands Arts Tour event and exhibition (Home of the Arts, Gold Coast, Queensland). Register for free tickets.
  • June 22: Homelands Arts Tour event (Newcastle Museum, Newcastle, NSW). Register for free tickets.
  • June 22: Logan Community Leaders Partnership Forum – Refugee Week Dinner (Beenleigh Events Centre, Queensland). Register for free tickets.
  • June 24: Homelands Arts Tour event (Aquarius Arcade, Coffs Harbour, NSW). Register for free tickets.

Member & partner events

  • June 20: Australian Computer Society World Refugee Day: Connecting refugee talent across Australia (ASC Sydney Hub, NSW). Register for free tickets.
  • June 22: Finding Freedom For Humanity – World Refugee Day in Conversation with UNHCR (Sir Zelman Cowen Centre, Victoria). Register for free tickets.
  • June 23: SydWest – The future of settlement in Penrith (Penrith City Council, NSW). Register for free tickets.
  • June 24: Hume City Council Refugee Week event (Town Hall Broadmeadows, Victoria). Register for free tickets.
  • June 24: AACSAN & ACSYA: Finding Freedom: Stories of Resilience (Hume Global Learning Centre Craigieburn, Victoria). Register here.

“I’m proud I was able to move on, face all the challenges I faced for all those years, and end up here. When you live in limbo for years, and then life gives you an opportunity to realise your dreams in a safe country – it’s a new opportunity to rebuild the life you want.”

Refugee stories

Refugees and migrants already contribute to Australia’s economy but still have tremendous unrealised potential.

Explore stories of refugees who have overcome barriers to find economic freedom in Australia. They shed light on their struggles and triumphs to rebuild their careers in a new country and contribute to the communities around them.

A dental dilemma: Sadia navigates barriers to reclaim her career
Mohammad’s journey from medicine to public servant
Refugee salon owner rebuilds career from apprentice to successful business owner in Australia
Iranian medical graduate overcomes years of employment hurdles to thrive as a mortgage broker
Syrian refugee harnesses the power of confidence to unlock career success for others

How to get involved

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter for the latest SSI advocacy campaigns, events and initiatives.

Follow and re-share our Refugee Week 2023 activities on social media.

SSI Diversity Training provides learning experiences that transform how organisations respond to diversity in ways that are thought-provoking, inspire curiosity, and build confidence.

Our Multicultural Support Workforce offers organisations the opportunity to book highly skilled in-language and in-culture professionals.

For more information about our Refugee Week campaign and how SSI supports newcomers to reach economic freedom, visit our Refugee Support Services page.

If you have questions about this campaign or would like to partner with us, we’d like to hear from you. Please email and we will be in touch.