Refugee Week: one, two, three, go!

Could you imagine being forced to leave your home, your country and everything you own to save your life? Trying to escape war, terrorism and other persecution? According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 65.3 millions of people are forcibly displaced, among them 21.3 millions are refugees.

Since 1986, all across Australia, people pay tribute to refugees through “Refugee Week”.

Launched this Friday 16th June at the Paddington Townhall and held from the 18th to the 24th June, Refugee Week will raise awareness about refugees and celebrate their great contributions to the Australian society. According to Tim O’Connor, Communications Director of the Refugee Council: “Too often, toxic politics about refugees are what governs the public opinion and we loose sight about the fact that refugees are making enormous contribution to the society, culturally and economically. Refugees need to be celebrated”.

This year, Refugee Week theme is “with courage let us all combine”, a verse extract from the national anthem. A strong meaning for Tim O’Connor: “It does take courage to flee out of your country, it does take courage to settle in a new community but it also takes courage to the community here to welcome people. But when you meet people who are refugees, they are not different. We are seeking the same things, sending our kids to school, getting a decent job and they want to contribute to the Australian society.”

Through the launching ceremony, many testimonies were heard and many stories were shared. Refugees are present in the room to help people understand what happened to them.

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The emphasis was put on the difficulty for refugees to find a proper job when they first arrive in Australia. Refugees often must turn themselves to cleaning jobs or other labour-intensive roles although they hold lots of qualifications and experience in more attractive sectors such as IT or accounting. In the centre stage, two refugees: Mahir Momand, CEO of “Thrive” and Niary Dacho, Co-founder of “Refugeetalent”; both created their company in order to help refugees to find a job.

Niary Dacho fled the war in Syria two years ago and came to Australia. Encountering difficulties to find a job, Dacho and Anna Robson, the other Co-founder of Refugeetalent, both decided to create an online platform putting in relation refugees and companies. The platform assists refugees with their resume and interview preparation but also offers after placement care. Refugeetalent helps them to find a job nationally in any domain.

“Companies benefit a lot from refugees, they bring high qualification skills, new personality, a way of thinking – they just need to have a chance” said Niary Dacho.

Mahir Momand confirmed that the arrival of refugees does not impact the economy:  “they are not a burden for the economy”.

His enterprise, Thrive, helps refugees to start their own business here in Australia. From a legal understanding to financial regulations, micro-finance loans and other compliances, Thrive assists refugees with their initiatives.

Mahir Momand also offers a post-creation monitoring for refugees to keep their businesses: “it is important for us, because they contribute to the Australian economy, they pay taxes, create jobs and that helps them to have a fast social integration through their customers, suppliers”.

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The launching party had only one watchword: celebrating refugees and all their qualities. Refugee Week has just started, lots of different events are already scheduled through the entire week.

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