Unity - the state of being united or joined as a whole. The opposite of divided. That's the theme of this year's Refugee Week, which runs from Sunday, June 20 to Saturday, June 26, 2021.
It endeavours to raise awareness of the issues refugees face, promote harmony and togetherness and celebrate the contributions refugees make to communities. The event was founded and is run by not-for-profit organisation, the Refugee Council of Australia.
"Refugee Week is a unique opportunity for us all to experience and celebrate the rich diversity of refugee communities through theatre, music, dance, film and other events which take place all over Australia," Refugee Council of Australia director of strategy, communications and fundraising Kelly Nicholls said. "The ultimate aim ... is to create better understanding between different communities and encourage successful integration, enabling refugees to live in safety and continue making a valuable contribution to Australia."
Refugee Week 2021 has several ambassadors who embody unity. Lizzy Kuoth is a leader in the multicultural sector and adviser on the refugee experience and community engagement. She's enthusiastic about advancing and advocating issues to build better and more inclusive communities. Lizzy's passion is helping other refugees overcome the enormous challenges of building a great life in Australia and contributing to communities.
As a public speaker working with RCA, she shares her own refugee story of fleeing war-torn South Sudan with her grandma and three young brothers, only to be stuck in Egypt for four years before arriving in Australia in 2005. "I have been given a huge opportunity, and I want to pay it forward," she said. "I am a leader in my local community, advising ... on community engagement initiatives to educate and inform on service delivery across arts, culture, and events."
Dalal Sleiman came to Australia as a refugee in 1992. Since that time, she has learned English and completed qualifications in community development and law. Post graduation, she has been working in the community sector and uses her skills to help newly arrived migrant refugees and asylum seekers to resettle. Dalal helps them reunite with their families, find accommodation, financial difficulties and advocates on their behalf while dealing with legal, education employment, and health agencies.
There are numerous ways to get involved in Refugee Week in 2021, whether as an individual, school, business, local government or community organisation. One way to show your support is through the Share a Meal, Share a Story initiative. You can do this in-person or digitally with family and friends, with recipes and stories from the Refugee Week Ambassadors. You can also host a Refugee Week event online or in-person or book a speaker to share their story at your business or school.
"In 2021, we are calling on you to help build a more cohesive community during Refugee Week. Whether hosting a local meal, a community event or attending an online event to hear from people all over the world, join us as we call for the spirit of unity as we recover from the isolation we have all endured in 2020," Kelly said.