Beginning of National Refugee Week_20th – 26th June 2021

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 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 20 June to Saturday 26 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).

 


Refugee Week 2021 Theme: Unity

Why does Refugee Week have a theme? 

The Refugee Week theme has a number of important functions:

  • It raises awareness of the issues affecting refugees. The theme aims to highlight aspects of the refugee experience and help the broader community to understand what it is like to be a refugee.
  • It helps to make Refugee Week a national celebration. The theme provides a focal point for events across Australia, uniting separate activities into a single nationwide celebration.
  • It promotes harmony and togetherness. The theme unites individuals, communities and organisations from many different backgrounds behind a common cause. The common theme is a reminder that, regardless of our differences, we all share a common humanity.
  • It broadens the impact of Refugee Week. The theme provides a common, cohesive message which can be promoted across the country, helping to maximise the effectiveness of awareness-raising activities.

2021 Theme – Unity

Unity – The way forward. 

The volatility of life in recent times has shown us unequivocally that we need to work together often merely to survive, let alone to thrive and progress. Let’s take the opportunity to start afresh and rebuild our lives together. To count our blessings and to put them to work. Existing and emerging communities. Working together.

The powerful potential of Unity. The special brew of ideas from all over the world that created our great way of life can continue evolving if we work together. Let’s not stop now, let’s move forward unified.

In 2021, we are calling on you to help build a more cohesive community during Refugee Week. Whether hosting a local meal, a community event or attending an online event to hear from people all over the world, join us as we call for the spirit of unity as we recover from the isolation we have all endured in 2020.

Stronger. Safer. Healthier. Happier. Together. 

Past Refugee Week themes

  • 2020: Year of Welcome
  • 2019: A World of Stories
  • 2018: #WithRefugees
  • 2015-2017: With courage let us all combine
  • 2012-2014: Restoring Hope
  • 2009-2011: Freedom from Fear
  • 2008: A Place to Call Home
  • 2007: The Voices of Young Refugees
  • 2006: Journeys
  • 2005: Different Past, Shared Future
  • 2004: A Journey of Understanding Towards Hope and Respect

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