Last Sunday marked the beginning of the annual Refugee Week celebrations nationwide. However, Yass’s own Rural Australians for Refugees (RAR) group have had their festivities stalled somewhat.
According to RAR president Karen Gabriel, there was a significant event planned. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, it was postponed until further notice.
“We did have plans for something, but it’s had to be postponed for at least a month or so,” Ms Gabriel said.
“However, we are encouraging people to participate in other ways … people can always check out our Facebook or email us if they want to know more about anything.”
Despite the Yass RAR’s plans having been suspended for the foreseeable future, there is a smaller event being hosted by Trader & Co cafe, which will consist of a singing group performing traditional African music.
It is scheduled for Sunday, June 25.
The RAR group is relatively new to Yass, and it is still in the process of being established as a cornerstone of the community.
But Ms Gabriel is confident that the group’s goals are clear and achievable.
“We aim for three things. We aim to educate people, to cut through some of that misinformation that goes around,” Ms Gabriel said.
“We fundraise. We’ve done a couple of significant fundraisers, where the money has gone to established groups that provide support to refugees.”
“And the other thing we really want to do is work with, so, Father Mick [Burke] has been doing a lot of advocacy to try and get refugee families to come to Yass.
“Unfortunately, despite all the work he did, and Yass Valley actually ticking all the boxes that the Immigration Department put up, we still got knocked back.”
The ‘misinformation’ Ms Gabriel alluded to revolves around longstanding perceptions held by the Australian community with regards to asylum seekers.
According to the Refugee Council of Australia, some of the more common misconceptions are: that those who arrive by boat are illegal, or ‘queue jumpers’. This is untrue. No law is broken by asylum seekers coming to Australia without authorisation while seeking asylum, it is a common method of applying for protection; and that refugees don’t contribute to Australian society. This is also false, as research shows that, given the opportunity, refugees can make important economic, civil and social contributions to Australian society.
- For more information, contact Yass Rural Australians for Refugees on Facebook or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org