Refugee Week is a month away and offers a time to heal and reflect
Refugee Week will take place from Sunday 19 June to Saturday 25 June 2022, offering early childhood education and care (ECEC) communities an opportunity to participate in the annual awareness raising activity and celebration of the positive contributions made by refugees to Australian society.
In 2022 the theme for Refugee Week is Healing, representing the opportunity the world has to “hit the reset button on how we behave towards one another”.
“The importance of human connections has been underscored by the pandemic and such lessons can help us in so many ways,” a representative from the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) said.
“Mainstream and refugee communities alike can draw upon shared hardship to heal wounds, to learn from each other and to move forward. Healing can occur through storytelling, through community and also through realisation of our intrinsic interconnectedness as individuals.”
The first Refugee Week events were organised in Sydney in 1986 by Austcare. In 1987, Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) became a co-organiser of the week, which became a national event from 1988. RCOA took on responsibility for the national coordination of Refugee Week from 2004.
Major-General Paul Cullen, the foundation president of both Austcare and RCOA, actively lobbied, from the 1980s, for a global annual celebration of the contribution of refugees. His dream was achieved in 2001, when the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) coordinated the first World Refugee Day (June 20).
Refugee Week provides a platform where positive images of refugees can be promoted in order to create a culture of welcome throughout the country. The ultimate aim of the celebration is to create better understanding between different communities and to encourage successful integration enabling refugees to live in safety and to continue making a valuable contribution to Australia.
The aims of Refugee Week are:
- to educate the Australian public about who refugees are and why they have come to Australia;
- to help people understand the many challenges refugees face coming to Australia;
- to celebrate the contribution refugees make to our community;
to focus on how the community can provide a safe and welcoming environment for refugees;
- for community groups and individuals to do something positive for refugees, asylum seekers and displaced people, within Australia but also around the world; and
- for service providers to reflect on whether they are providing the best possible services to refugees.
The week represents an ideal opportunity for ECEC settings to experience and celebrate the rich diversity of refugee communities through theatre, music, dance, film and other events and to highlight the aims of the Week, as outlined above.
In many settings children and families may have lived experience of being refugees, and in many communities there are multiple examples of refugees who have made positive contributions to Australia.
Everyone is welcome to participate in promoting the aims of Refugee Week – the more the merrier. Past events have included football tournaments, public talks, exhibitions, music and dance festivals, theatre projects and film screenings.
More information about Refugee Week may be accessed here.
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