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).
With courage let us all combine
The Refugee Council of Australia has chosen “With courage let us all combine” as the theme for Refugee Week in Australia for 2015 to 2017. Taken from the second verse of the national anthem, the theme celebrates the courage of refugees and of people who speak out against persecution and injustice. It serves as a call for unity and for positive action, encouraging Australians to improve our nation’s welcome for refugees and to acknowledge the skills and energy refugees bring to their new home.
It takes courage to be a refugee: As people who have faced persecution because of who they are (their race, nationality or membership of a persecuted group) or what they believe (their religion or political opinion), refugees need courage:
- The courage not to deny identity or beliefs in the face of persecution.
- The courage to leave all that is familiar and step into the unknown in search of peace.
- The courage to keep going in the face of devastating loss, difficulty and despair.
- The courage to begin again, to work hard and to maintain hope in an unfamiliar land.
Horizon Theatre this year teamed up with Orange Migrant Support Service with the support of Orange City Council to run some an artistic workshop full of colour, fun, acting, design and puppets!!