Starting conversations is the aim of organisers at Bendigo’s upcoming Refugee Week.
From multicultural storytime to school debates, 10 events will take place over the course of the week.
Christine Cummins, conveyor of Bendigo’s Rural Australians for Refugees group is hoping the week will be a chance to promote harmony and inclusivity in the community.
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She wants to see the benefit of refugees to the community recognised.
“The purpose of the week is to really highlight the benefit of refugee settlement,” she said.
“We have people from many different cultures that have settled in Bendigo and are continuing to settle in Bendigo, and they bring with them a wealth of wonderful knowledge and skills.”
This year RAR has teamed up with other refugee advocacy and support groups to run its biggest program yet.
These include a presentation from Fadak Alfayadh, a community lawyer and refuge. Ms Alfayadh will speak about both her experience as a refugee, and as a human rights lawyer.
Events are aimed around helping people understand refugees through greater knowledge of their circumstances.
“It’s really about trying to focus on getting people on board to recognise that people are people no matter where you come from,” Ms Cummins said.
“Horrible things can happen to anyone, that hardship can be bombing, it can be any sort of persecution that makes people need to flee.
“When people have been granted refugee status, when people have been forced to flee their homeland, they have really gone through a huge upheaval.”
A dinner for businesses which employee refugees is one key event, as a way of recognising their support.
- Refugee Week will run from June 17-23, a full calendar of events in Bendigo can be found at bendigo.vic.gov.au/media/3149