The need to belong is a universal emotion that crosses all cultures and borders.
This is the central message of Refugee Week, which runs from Sunday 17 June to 23 June.
Frances Rush, CEO of the Asylum Seekers Centre, said: “There is something inherently human in feeling that we belong, that we are part of something, that we are recognised as a person and that we are welcome.”
The JNC honours organisations in our community like the Refugee Council of Australia, Jesuit Refugee Service, and the Asylum Seekers Centre, who work to ensure that people forced to flee from their homes can be welcomed into the community and live with dignity and with hope.
As we reflect on Refugee Week, The JNC is feeling good that our work focuses on opportunities for people to be welcomed and included in their communities. We believe that being socially connected improves people’s wellbeing.
“A community needs a sense of belonging”
We were delighted recently to hear from a woman who attends our social outings that ours is an “excellent and wonderful service for the elderly and lonely.”And recent consultations with people accessing our various programs and services reinforce the importance of a sense of belonging. Here’s what some of them said:
“Innately humans like to be together.”
“Isolation and lack of connection have the capacity to create mental health conditions and feeling of loneliness.”
“It’s important to create a sense of social well-being within the community.”
“There is so much we can learn from one another, including strength and determination in adversity.”
“A community needs a sense of belonging.”
Welcomed by The JNC
“What difference has The JNC made for you?” we asked the people we consulted. Here’s what some of them said:
“The JNC respects every culture and welcomes everyone.”
“I feel safe knowing someone is there for me.”
“Before I felt lonely. JNC feels like home, here I feel like I have friends.”
“JNC gave me an opportunity to meet people outside my social network and become part of something bigger.”
“The difference JNC makes is that I am connecting with other people.”
About Refugee Week
Refugee Week is Australia’s peak annual activity to inform the public about refugees and celebrate positive contributions made by refugees to Australian society. The first Refugee Week events were organised in Sydney in 1986. In 2001 the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees coordinated the first World Refugee Day (June 20).
Refugee Week provides a platform where positive images of refugees can be promoted in order to highlight the need to belong, and create a culture of welcome throughout the country. The ultimate aim of the celebration is to create better understanding between different communities and to encourage successful integration enabling refugees to live in safety and to continue making a valuable contribution to Australia.
The theme for Refugee Week 2018 is #WithRefugees, recognising the need to belong, and the need for a global movement to demand the safety and rights of refugees are protected.
The aims of Refugee Week are to educate the Australian public about who refugees are and why they have come to Australia, help people understand the many challenges refugees face coming to Australia, and celebrate the contribution refugees make to our community.
In this week, the focus is also on recognising the need to belong, and how the community can provide a safe and welcoming environment for refugees, and do something postive for asylum seekers and displaced people, within Australia but also around the world.