Celebrate refugees’ contributions to society

Amber Flohm
Multicultural Officer/Organiser

Refugee Week, with the theme “Restoring hope”, will be celebrated from June 15–21.

Coordinated by the Refugee Council of Australia, this important week in the yearly calendar aims to raise awareness of issues affecting refugees, as well as celebrate the positive contribution made by refugees in Australian society.

Federation is a proud sponsor of Refugee Week again this year and urges schools, colleges and communities to register their events on the Refugee Council of Australia’s website at www.refugeeweek.org.au.

A resource kit with lesson plans, online games and other activities especially designed for students, statistics on refugees, myths and facts is also available from the website for use in classrooms. Links to further resources, including Federation’s library, are also provided.

It has been another terrible year for those who seek asylum in Australia. With a pre-election deal to try to trade refugees in the so-called "Malaysian solution", followed by a federal election pitch promising to "stop the boats", people fleeing persecution and being forced into indefinite mandatory detention continues to be the practice of both sides of government. The latest developments just bring further shame to us as a nation as we now look set to try and broker a deal with Cambodia.

Federation has joined a number of non-government organisations and other unions this year to repeatedly and strongly protest the continual inhumane treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, demanding that enough is enough. There are more than 1000 children behind bars in detention centres across Australia — a totally unacceptable and illegal practice. Perhaps even more disturbing was the recent removal of yet another unaccompanied minor to Nauru. There are now 190 children in detention on Nauru, 40 of them sent as unaccompanied minors, under Immigration Minister Scott Morrison, who is the legal guardian of these children. These children will never be settled in Australia, even if they are found to be refugees. On Nauru, children have no access to formal education or recreation and the effects on their growth, both physical and psychological is well documented.

Australia continues to be the only Refugee Convention signatory to have a policy of mandatory, indefinite detention for asylum seekers.