‘Share a meal, share a story’: celebrating refugee stories

Australia’s national peak body for refugees and local communities come together through food and storytelling

In partnership with Settlement Services International (SSI), the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) is highlighting food during Refugee Week (June 16-22, 2019) and asking everyone to ‘Share a meal, share a story’.
Through its 2019 theme, ‘A World of Stories’, RCOA is encouraging the broader community to celebrate the immense courage, resilience and valuable contributions made by refugees to Australian society.
On Wednesday, June 26, SSI will present cultural activities and performances over a shared meal at its Community Kitchen in Auburn, a place where people from different backgrounds cook, eat, dance, learn and create together.
Through the concept of a shared meal, the Community Kitchen reduces social and cultural isolation of community members, including refugees, people seeking asylum and migrants living in the local Auburn area.
Refugee Week celebrations will include an array of activities and entertainment, including tours of the SSI Friendship Garden, a cultural fashion show, and dance and vocal performances.
“This is a place that lives and breathes the ‘Share a meal, share a story’ ethos,” said SSI General Manager, Public Affairs & Communications, Shannon Kliendienst.
RCOA CEO Paul Power said, “The ‘Share a meal, share a story’ theme for this year’s Refugee Week speaks to the incredible stories and the rich culinary heritage that people bring with them when they come to Australia. Food brings people together, and we’re encouraging people to do just that as they celebrate our refugee communities next week.”
Every fortnight the Community Kitchen serves a warm, culturally familiar meal in a relaxed setting that allows for intercultural and interfaith friendships to be formed. It is a welcoming place where people from different backgrounds meet and learn about each other over lunch and through participating in activities.
Nasrin Azizi came to Australia as a refugee from Afghanistan in 2002. She gained her degree in social work in 2014 and runs a wellbeing group for Afghani women, which aims to decrease social isolation.
“As refugees, we appreciate the freedom of Australia. Dancing was once forbidden in Afghanistan [under Taliban rule] so, by sharing their culture through things like dance and music, the Community Kitchen makes the women in my group feel empowered and builds their self-esteem. Plus they enjoy meeting and learning from other cultures – hearing stories and eating new food.
“The Community Kitchen is one of the best programs to make people feel included.”
Ms Kliendienst said, “We welcome everyone in the local community and beyond to come and be part of our Community Kitchen on June 26 to ‘share a meal, and a story’ with us.”
The event will be sponsored by Allianz, a long-standing corporate partner of SSI. Members of the Allianz executive team will also be volunteering their time on the day.
Allianz Australia Senior Manager, Social Impact, Charis Martin-Ross said that this event is one of many examples of how the ongoing partnership with Allianz and SSI has broadened employee perspectives on diversity and community engagement.
“Allianz is proud to partner with SSI and our partnership has given our employees a better understanding of refugee experiences as well as a chance to connect and give back to our diverse community,” Ms Martin-Ross said.
“We hope our experience showcases the benefits of hiring people with a refugee background. Through our refugee employment programs, I have seen first-hand the talent and potential that refugees bring to the workforce.”
Organisations can get involved in volunteer opportunities to ‘share a meal, share a story’ with SSI’s newcomer community throughout the year. Contact partnerships
/Public Release.