Refugee Week is a national annual celebration of the contributions that refugees have made to Australian society, and a chance to raise awareness about the issues affecting refugees. Refugee Week is organised by the Refugee Council of Australia, and in 2017 is taking place from the 18th to the 24th June.
The designated theme for Refugee Week for 2015-2017 is “With courage let us all combine.” These words, taken from the Australian national anthem, represent the courage that it takes to be a refugee, the courage it takes to speak out against injustice, and a call for unity and action for a fairer society.
World Refugee Day
Refugee Week coincides with World Refugee Day, the official UN annual day for commemorating the courage and perseverance of millions of refugees and for showing support for those who are forced to flee their home countries. World Refugee Day is observed on 20th June every year.
Sign the petition
In 2016, the United Nations Refugee Agency started the #WithRefugees petition, to ask the governments of the world to make sure that every refugee child gets an education, every refugee family has somewhere safe to live, and that every refugee can work or learn new skills to support their families. Over a million people have signed the petition so far, and the campaign will continue until a global compact for refugees is adopted in 2018. You can sign the petition here.
For more information on World Refugee Day, visit the UNHCR and United Nations websites. If you would like to find out about Refugee Week events near you, or to download resources on how you can get involved in Refugee Week, head to www.refugeeweek.org.au.
Social Justice Statement
Refugee Week is a good opportunity to revisit the 2015-16 Social Justice Statement from the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC). Titled, “For Those Who’ve Come Across the Seas: Justice for refugees and asylum seekers,” the statement draws attention to the difficult circumstances that push people into seeking asylum on Australia’s shores, and encourages Australians to welcome the stranger as our neighbour. You can read the statement here.
For more information about Australian and Catholic responses to asylum seekers and refugees, visit: