16 January 2017

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2017: What's in store

Happy New Year! The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) would like to thank all of you for your tireless support in 2016. We hope that you all had a relaxing break and are fired up and ready to fight for refugee justice in 2017 - we certainly are!

We have a lot to keep us busy this coming year. In February, we'll be hosting the first ever Refugee Alternatives Conference together with UNSW. In June, we will be co-ordinating Refugee Week, the annual celebration of all the wonderful ways in which refugee communities enrich our lives. This year, Refugee Week will include the exciting addition of the first ever Refugee Film Festival, with screenings taking place every day and the opportunity for you to host your own.

Our Face To Face program will expand in 2017, bringing more school students than ever the opportunity to hear stories and ask questions from a person of refugee background. Our policy team will be hard at work as ever, analysing and releasing the findings of our recent annual consultations, and continuing to write submissions and reports on all aspects of refugee policy. 

In 2017, we will continue to campaign on the issues that people seeking asylum and refugees have told us are the most important. Our #EducationForAll campaign, which saw important wins in 2016, will continue to push for better access to education for people from refugee backgrounds. We will also keep advocating for the reunion of refugee families as part of our #FairGoForFamilies campaign. In addition, we'll be building on last year's citizenship win, to ensure that all of the       10 000 people affected by this decision receive a fair and timely decision on their applications.  

In every aspect of our work, we continue to work alongside people from refugee backgrounds, whom we believe should be front and centre of this movement.
Support our work

Setting people up to succeed

Although many aspects of Australia's refugee policy are controversial, it has long been recognised that Australia's settlement program is among the best in the world.  The organisations welcoming new arrivals work tirelessly to guide them through their journeys of settling into a new country. 

This week, the media has reported that half of the people who are being resettled under the additional Syrian and Iraqi humanitarian intake, will be settled in Fairfield, NSW.  Whilst an intake of this size in a short period of time will always bring challenges, new communities can succeed and thrive when the necessary supports are in place. Numerous case studies from around Australia, such as the case of Nhill, show that refugee communities can bring enormous benefits to their new towns. In Fairfield, a town with an excellent track record for refugee settlement, local councillors have called for additional federal support to allow this increased population to thrive. It is clear that only with political leadership from every level of government can these new Australians succeed and offer their full potential to their new homes. 

Refugee Alternatives: New speakers announced  

Tickets are flying out of the door for the first ever Refugee Alternatives Conference, which is hosted by RCOA and UNSW and will take place on 22-23 February 2017.

We are delighted to announce a number of new speakers, including Keynote Speaker Munjed Al-Muderis, who fled Iraq as a young boy and now works in Australia as an orthopaedic surgeon. 

The full Conference program will follow at the end of this month. Click the button below to learn more and buy tickets.
More info & tickets
Refugee Film Festival:The Baulkham Hills African Ladies Troupe + Q&A
As part of the Refugee Film Festival, we will be screening incredible film The Baulkham Hills African Ladies Troupe, which tells the story about a group of women who turn their past traumas into a remarkable, uplifting work of theatre. 

The film will be followed by an exclusive Q&A panel with Yordanos, one of the stars of the film, and award-winning spoken word poet Abe Nouk, who will share his poetry with the audience. 

Due to the high level of interest, we have had to move to a larger cinema for this event, so some tickets are still available.
Get tickets
View trailer
2017 Calendar: Once a Refugee
You can still buy your copy of our 2017 Calendar. Once a Refugee features 12 remarkable people who have been refugees, yet like all of the millions of refugees in our world today, have many other stories to tell.

All of the money raised supports our advocacy in raising the voices of refugees and people seeking asylum. 
Get yours now

Visitors' access to people in detention
Over the last few years, many people have reported to RCOA that visiting people in detention is becoming even more difficult. We conducted a national piece of research into this issue. RCOA welcomes feedback on this report brief. 


Hidden Voices From Hell 
January 23, NSW 
Hear the personal stories of refugees’ and asylum seekers’ journeys to Australia. S. Nagaveeran (Ravi) will share his powerful words (poems), as well as screen four short films showing the experiences of people detained at the offshore detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island PNG.

Refugee Communities Advocacy Network (RCAN) Forum
February 4, NSW
This forum is aimed to bring refugee communities together for a day of learning, sharing and strengthening of links and ties for a future of collective work on common issues.  RCAN will further update the wider community about its progress so far, its planned launch and seek community feedback on its future direction and activities. 

Ageing in a Foreign Land
June 21, SA
This unique conference  journeys into the deep cultural, spiritual, and linguistic areas of ageing amongst different communities. It represents a stimulating and colourful cross disciplinary and cross generational insight into our noiseless, but not silent, ethnic communities and neighborhoods. Abstracts are now open. 

Community Picnic for Family Reunion 
January 22, QLD 
If you are free on the 22nd of January, come along to a picnic at Harmony Gardens in Dutton Park, Brisbane. This event is being held in support of RCOA's #FairGoForFamilies campaign, to support the right to family reunion for refugees and people seeking asylum. If you would like to host your own picnic, please let us know here. 

For more events or to submit an event, see our calendar.


The National Ethnic Disability Alliance is seeking applications for new board members.  Please see their constitution and application form for more information. 

The Victorian Government is seeking input into its Plan for Fairer, Safer Housing.  To provide feedback, please click here

Brimbank Cinespace are recruiting youth leaders, photographers, artists, editors and much more. Click here for more information and to participate. 

Free weekly drop-in civil law clinics are taking place in Auburn, NSW, every Friday. Lawyers will be on hand to assist people in areas of civil law or make the relevant referrals. 

For more opportunities or to submit an opportunity, please see our employment page


National and regional

Human Rights Watch report card gives Australia fail for offshore detention
'The torture in my country is transparent, in Australia it is not obvious'
Fairfield Council calls for Federal help in refugee resettlement
Education Denied: people seeking asylum and refugees trapped in limbo
'I am the happiest Aussie' 

Germany hits back at Trump criticism of refugee policy
Jake Chapman on refugee rescue in Greece

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with refugee news
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