Queensland Celebrates Refugee Week

Minister for Child Safety, Minister for Seniors and Disability Services and Minister for Multicultural Affairs The Honourable Charis Mullen
  • Queenslanders encouraged to mark Refugee Week (16–22 June)
  • The annual event promotes greater awareness of refugees, the issues they face and their contributions to Australia
  • 2024–25 State Budget included a substantial funding increase for asylum seeker and refugee assistance

Queenslanders are encouraged to get involved in this year’s annual Refugee Week (16–22 June) celebrations to welcome and show support for those displaced by conflict, persecution and human rights abuses.

This year’s theme is Finding Freedom, with a focus on the bonds of family and strength in times of adversity.

Events and projects to be showcased during Refugee Week include:

  • refugees and asylum seekers living in Toowoomba sharing their experiences on a Stories of Freedom website
  • a Storytelling through Art workshop at the Queensland Multicultural Centre in Brisbane
  • screening of a Kurdish documentary film, Behrouz, in Townsville
  • Family Fun Day in Kingston with sports activities, entertainment and food for everyone to enjoy together.

The Refugee Week celebrations follow a substantial boost in the recent State Budget for assistance to refugees, people seeking asylum and those escaping conflicts overseas.

The Asylum Seeker and Refugee Assistance program has been allocated an extra $4.8 million over two years, on top of the existing $2.075 million annual budget commitment.

This means it can expand its service delivery, including for people escaping conflict zones.

The funding increase will enable greater support to eligible clients in areas such as emergency relief, including accommodation assistance, at a time when cost of living and housing pressures are exacerbating already difficult situations.

The extra support recognises some people arriving under certain temporary visas may be unable to access work rights, benefits and payments or public health and mental health care, making them vulnerable to greater risk of harm.

In addition, the specialist not-for-profit organisation Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma (QPASTT) received extra funding of $1 million over two years.

This will enable QPASTT to expand an initiative that supports children, young people and their caregivers, particularly those affected by global conflicts.

Its Social Cohesion in Times of Crisis project develops and delivers programs that promote connection, belonging and social cohesion, including human rights education, non-discrimination and peaceful conflict resolution.

QPASTT works in 53 schools in Queensland to support students from refugee backgrounds.

As stated by the Minister for Multicultural Affairs Charis Mullen:

“Our investment in these important programs shows Queensland is a state that welcomes migrants.

“It’s also a compassionate place for people from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds who have suffered unimaginable circumstances in their homelands.

“We are committed to treating each other with dignity, regardless of our differences.

“I would encourage everyone to embrace Refugee Week and broaden their understanding of the incredible journeys that people make on the way to their new home.

“Many of those who arrived as refugees or asylum seekers in Australia have excelled in a range of areas, providing invaluable contributions to Queensland.

“When we support everyone to connect, contribute and belong – we create safe and welcoming communities.

“Working together towards the common good is when we’re at our best.”

As stated by QPASTT Co-Chief Executive Officer Liz Gordon:

“Many people from refugee backgrounds have experienced traumatic events before arriving in Australia.

“Our organisation supports individuals, families and communities in their recovery by focussing on healing, belonging, thriving and justice.

“QPASTT welcomes this additional funding from the Queensland Government.

“It will help us to provide restorative processes to children, young people and their caregivers to prevent intergenerational trauma and manage the ongoing distress caused by global conflicts.”

As stated by Communify Chief Executive Officer Karen Dare:

“We are a consortium of organisations – Red Cross, Multicultural Australia, Refugee and Immigration Legal Service (RAILS)sd, Indooroopilly Uniting Church, World Wellness, QPASST and Communify – that are supporting people as they apply to Australia seeking asylum.

“This is a humanitarian response to people from war-torn countries who are seeking asylum.

“The application process can take a very long time, and sometimes there’s no pathway for people to return to their countries, or they face serious penalties if they do.”

/Public Release. View in full here.