With refugee week coming up from June 16 - 22, Great Lakes Rural Australians for Refugees is inviting the community to develop their understanding of local refugees and the broader issues of refugees worldwide.
Refugee Week is Australia's peak annual activity to raise awareness about the issues affecting refugees and celebrate the positive contributions made by refugees to Australian society.
First celebrated in 1986, it coincides with World Refugee Day on June 20.
GLRAR president, Margaret Gardner, believed the week was an opportune time to reflect on the plight of refugees through the years and how their plight has come to be internationally recognised.
"Until 1951 there was no commonly accepted term for people fleeing persecution," she said.
"Following mass migrations from Europe due to the Second World War there was a need to develop clear definitions for people needing protection and how they should be protected."
In 1951, the United Nations Convention defined the status of refugees as:
Any person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his/her nationality and is unable, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country.
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The theme for Refugee Week in 2019 is 'A World of Stories', which gives an opportunity for Australians to celebrate the immense courage, resilience, and valuable contributions made by decades of refugees who come to Australia.
"Globally, communities have developed an understanding of the need to ensure refugee safety, and that their human rights need to be protected," Mrs Gardner said.
"In Australia, it is the responsibility of our government and each one of us to ensure people forced to flee from their homes can live with dignity and hope."
The Refugee Council of Australia has this year come up with the theme #WithRefugees.
The key message is the question: 'When history looks back will it be to see them standing alone or will it see we were standing #WithRefugees?'
Mrs Gardner said GLRAR will endeavour to bring stories about the contributions local refugees make to our community over the coming months.
Information about GLRAR can be obtained by contacting Mrs Gardner on 0419 682 526.
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