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Wollongong City Council

Wollongong celebrates World Refugee Week

Friday 17 June 2022

Monday 20 June is Refugee Day and from Sunday 19 June to Saturday 25 June, we’re marking World Refugee Week – an annual celebration that seeks to acknowledge the positive contributions of our refugee residents and raise awareness on issues that affect them.

For our city, this is an important celebration as refugees have been part of our city’s identity since the second World War. Since 2005 we’ve also been a proud Refugee Welcome Zone.

This year’s Refugee Week theme is ‘Healing’ and speaks to the reality that people of refugee backgrounds often suffer trauma from their experiences, and being able to heal in a new home which offers safety and stability is very important.

Wollongong City Council is encouraging all members of our community to reconnect with their community this Refugee Week and get involved in events happening in our city.

Wollongong City Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM said that this year Wollongong Library will be hosting two great, free events.

“On Wednesday 22 June, the library will be showing a special movie night screening of ‘Soufra’ – a film about the efforts of social entrepreneur working to improve the lives of women and their family living in a Lebanese refugee camp by turning their cooking skills into a profession,” Cr Bradbery said.

“Then on Thursday 23 June, enjoy a Q&A session with refugee guest speakers Ola Altinawi, Dzenet Tinjak, and Loan Nittel who will discuss topics such as the phases of settlement, questions of home and the sense of belonging to a place.

We’ve also partnered with the Red Cross, SCARF and the Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra to hold a Refugee Week Morning Tea to welcome our most newly arrived community members.”

Wollongong boasts a diverse and growing community and we’re proud to offer our city as a place of home to refugees.

“This year alone we have welcomed 68 people of refugee backgrounds to Wollongong from places around the globe including Burma, Congo, Iraq, and Syria. A big thank you needs to go to our local refugee service sector and community organisations who provide a strong foundation to these newly arrived migrants to help them settle and thrive,” Cr Bradbery said.

“Despite the trauma of being forced to leave one’s homeland, our refugee community members have made a real positive difference to our community here in Wollongong. We value and acknowledge their unique contribution, their resilience, skills and talent.

“Refugee Week, and this year’s theme of healing, is a reminder that we could all do with a little more kindness and compassion. How we treat each other is important and it’s up to each of us to play a part in welcoming newly arrived refugees and make Wollongong a safe place to live.”

What’s On?

Refugee Week Film Screening

WHEN: 22 June, 1-3pm

WHERE: Wollongong Library, 41 Burelli Street

A special film screening to celebrate Refugee Week! Join us to watch an incredible documentary about the efforts of a social entrepreneur working to improve lives while living in a Lebanese refugee camp, by turning their cooking skills into a profession. Afternoon tea will be provided!

Bookings essential via Eventbrite.

Building a New Home in Wollongong – A Conversation with Refugee Speakers

WHEN: 23 June, 2-3pm

WHERE: Wollongong Library, 41 Burelli Street

Come on down to Wollongong Library for a Q&A with refugee guest speakers Ola Altinawi, Dzenet Tinjak, and Loan Nittel. Afternoon tea to follow, made by local caterers with refugee backgrounds! Together they will cover topics such as:

  • Phases of settlement
  • What is home? When does sense of home transform?
  • An evolving sense of identity

Bookings essential via Eventbrite.

Other ways to celebrate…

Volunteer

Giving your time to help your community is one of the most empowering choices you can make. Volunteering Illawarra offers information and advice on a number of volunteering opportunities that support refugee communities here in Wollongong. This Refugee Week, why not try something new and give back to your community?

Immerse yourself in stories from Refugees

The refugee experience is diverse, complicated, sometimes messy and very real. A good book is one of the most easily accessible ways you can broaden your understanding of the world around you. Best of all, Wollongong City Libraries collection boasts many great fiction and non-fiction reads about and by people who are refugees.

Here are some stories we suggest you give a try:

The ungrateful refugee by Dina Nayeri.

On fragile waves by E. Lily Yu.

The Mediterranean by Armin Greder.

Fighting for Hakeem : how people power challenged two monarchies, a military junta and football's governing body FIFA .. and won by Craig Foster with Alex Engel-Mallon.

Foreign soil by Maxine Beneba Clarke.

When Michael met Mina by Randa Abdel-Fattah.

Escape from Manus : the untold true story by Jaivet Ealom.

Prize fighter: sometimes the greatest battle you can have is with your past by Future D. Fidel.

Movie screening: ‘A Scattered People’

The Refugee Action Collective Illawarra will also be holding a film screening of ‘Scattered People: A song can take you home’. Visit the RAC Illawarra Facebook page for more information, or visit Try Booking website to purchase tickets.