Beginning of National Refugee Week_16th – 22nd June 2019

Refugee Week is Australia’s peak annual activity to inform the public about refugees and celebrate positive contributions made by refugees to Australian society. 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.

Over the past 20 years, Refugee Week celebrations have developed in a number of other countries. While there are minor differences in the dates for Refugee Week, all include World Refugee Day (June 20). In Australia, Refugee Week is scheduled to ensure that it does not clash with public holidays in any Australian state or territory.

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.

Refugee Week is a unique opportunity for us all to experience and celebrate the rich diversity of refugee communities through theatre, music, dance, film and other events which take place all over Australia and highlight the aims of the Week, as outlined above. Refugee Week is an umbrella participatory festival which allows a wide range of refugee community organisations, voluntary and statutory organisations, local councils, schools, student groups and faith-based organisations to host events during the week.

Past events have included football tournaments, public talks, exhibitions, music and dance festivals, theatre projects and film screenings. Everyone is welcome to participate in promoting the aims of Refugee Week – the more the merrier.

Through Refugee Week, we aim to provide an important opportunity for asylum seekers and refugees to be seen, listened to and valued.


When is Refugee Week?

Refugee Week in Australia is always held from Sunday to Saturday of the week which includes 20 June (World Refugee Day).

In coming years, Refugee Week will be celebrated on the following dates:

  • Refugee Week 2020: Sunday 14 June to Saturday 20 June
  • Refugee Week 2021: Sunday 20 June to Saturday 26 June
  • Refugee Week 2022: Sunday 19 June to Saturday 25 June
  • Refugee Week 2023: Sunday 18 June to Saturday 24 June
  • Refugee Week 2024: Sunday 16 June to Saturday 22 June


Refugee Week will be held from Sunday 16 June to Saturday 22 June

Refugee Week is Australia’s peak annual activity to raise awareness about the issues affecting refugees and celebrate the positive contributions made by refugees to Australian society. Originally celebrated in 1986, Refugee Week coincides with World Refugee Day (20 June).

 


2019 Theme

The Refugee Council of Australia has chosen #WithRefugees is the theme for Refugee Week 2019 in Australia. Today, more than ever, we need a global movement to demand the safety and rights of refugees are protected. In Australia, it is the responsibility of our Government, and each one of us to ensure people forced to flee from their homes can live with dignity and with hope.

Refugee Week provides an opportunity for the Australian public to recognise and better understand the courage and contribution of refugees. People from across the world who have sought and in some cases found, safety in Australia. Hearing their stories during refugee week reminds us that these powerful people are defined by so much more than their past. People who today are making many valuable contributions to Australian society and who show immense courage and resilience.


Our Key Message in 2019

‘When history looks back will it be to see them standing alone or will it see we were standing #WithRefugees’.


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