Published On 16 August 2019 at 02:30 PM
Students from Sutherland Shire and the Georges River area will have the opportunity to come together to learn about and discuss the challenges facing refugees and people seeking asylum at two Youth Refugee Forums this month.
Designed to increase awareness and create more welcoming communities, students will experience interactive and immersive activities at the Schools Refugee Forums – Awareness Advocacy Action to help them understand the experiences of people seeking asylum and people from refugee backgrounds.
Sutherland Shire Council and Georges River Council, along with Gymea Community Aid and Information Services, 3 Bridges, Jesuit Refugee Services, Settlement Services International and Shopfront Arts Co-op have been working with local high school students to develop the two forums.
Sutherland Shire Mayor, Councillor Carmelo Pesce said he’s proud to help facilitate the youth forums as this delivers on Council’s commitment towards providing a culturally rich and vibrant community that anyone can call home.
“Sutherland Shire has been a Refugee Welcome Zone since 2004 and we are committed to creating a community where everyone feels they belong,” said Mayor Pesce.
“We value the opinions of our young people and these youth forums enable us to listen to their thoughts and ideas about how we can continue to foster an inclusive community.
Georges River Council Mayor Kevin Greene agreed with Mayor Pesce’s sentiments, adding that being part of the Refugee Welcome Zone is vital to helping advocate for the human rights of refugees.
“Through forums like these, our young people develop a stronger understanding of the issues faced by refugees and asylum seekers and provide a unique perspective which needs to be listened to,” said Mayor Greene.
“This leads to greater compassion in our community, and enhances the cultural and religious diversity found within it.”
Kalpna Patel, a Community Worker from Gymea Community Aid & Information Services, said this is the third year young people have organised youth forums for their peers.
“It's been inspiring to work with young people committed to raising awareness and advocating on creating welcoming communities for people from refugee and asylum seeking backgrounds,” Ms Patel said.
Activities on the day will be run by the students and will involve presentations from a panel of experts who work with refugees and human rights issues.
Participants will also hear from local young people who will be sharing their own stories of settlement.
In order to increase awareness about the lives of refugees and people seeking asylum, students will discuss values, reflect on the many challenges faced by refugees and explore ideas for action.
Participants will also engage in fun activities including African drumming workshops led by Lucky African Dance Company.