The theme of Refugee Week 2020 is Year of Welcome. It’s a notion embraced by passionate volunteers in Caboolture who know just how important it is to feel part of a community.
Refugee Week started on June 14 and runs until Saturday, June 20.
The annual celebration aims to raise awareness about the issues affecting refugees and celebrate the positive contributions they make to Australian society.
It was first held in 1986 and culminates in World Refugee Day on June 20.
Community Action for a Multicultural Society – Caboolture Program Co-ordinator Luisa Miller’s message to the broader community embraces this year’s theme.
“To be one and be united. For me, there is no colour – everyone is the same including refugees, migrants and asylum-seekers,” she says.
The program, run from Caboolture Neighbourhood Centre, aims to ensure that regardless of a person’s cultural, linguistic and religious background they: have equitable access to services and programs that respond to their needs; can fully participate in and benefit from all aspects of life in Queensland; feel a sense of belonging in a cohesive and harmonious community.
Refugees and migrants have the opportunity to learn English and take part in basic computer literacy workshops.
Luisa says learning English is key to finding work and making connections in the community.
She works one-on-one with beginners until they feel confident to attend group classes, which also offer a chance to meet people and reduce feelings of isolation.
There’s also a morning tea once a month to bring people together to socialise, practice their English and receive information from agencies which might be able to assist them.
The program also usually runs special events, including one during Refugee Week, but has been unable to this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.
A key part of the program is welcoming refugees, taking them on informative tours of the region so they know where services and facilities are.
Luisa says she also works in partnership with Moreton Bay Regional Council and Multicultural Australia to ensure individuals’ needs are met and connect them with communities in other parts of the region or Brisbane.
“People feel isolation and depression and don’t go out. They’re very grateful for the multicultural program around here,” she says.
Luisa has used a $10,000 Moreton Bay Regional Council COVID-19 Hardship Grant to help those not eligible for government assistance such as international students and backpackers.
Her program has provided food vouchers and bought laptops for people to borrow so they can improve their computer literacy, English speaking skills and connect with family overseas during this tough time.
Community events aren’t possible this year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, but there are plenty of ways you can get involved online
For more information about Community Action for a Multicultural Society – Caboolture, head to the website.