Queanbeyan-Palerang will become a Refugee Welcome Zone under a plan The Greens put forward today to mark Refugee Week.

Greens candidate for QPRC, Katrina Willis, said that our community could provide more practical support for refugees under the program that dozens of councils across Australia had joined.

“On council, The Greens will seek support for Queanbeyan-Palerang to join the growing movement that is providing practical support for refugees,” Ms Willis said.

Becoming a Refugee Welcome Zone is a public commitment to welcome refugees to our community, show compassion, support religious and cultural diversity, and uphold the human rights of refugees.

Refugee Welcome Zones also benefit from joining the program by supporting new residents into their regions, encouraging a younger workforce, and improving social harmony and cultural diversity.

There are many practical ways for Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council to support refugee settlement. This includes assisting the volunteers who advocate for and assist refugees.

“First off is to celebrate Refugee Week. Events could include a community meal in different towns, musical performances, film screenings and sporting activities,” Ms Willis said.

“Forums to hear from refugees about their personal experiences, for those who wish to share these, can deepen our understanding of, and appreciation for, the challenges refugees face, the setbacks and achievements in making a new home after enduring circumstances most of us can barely imagine.”

Other practical measures of support include:

  • notifying refugee support groups when new refugees settle in the district; this could be done through liaison with government refugee support services
  • supporting conversational English classes; this could include assisting with promotion and suitable meeting spaces
  • helping refugees access networks such as local service providers, support groups, sporting and religious organisations, and businesses looking to provide work experience and employment
  • expanding the donations program to include local groups who support refugees.