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Refugee Week launched with flag raising ceremony

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Kath Morton Ballarat Rural Australians for Refugee (RAR) and Ballarat’s Citizen of the Year with fellow RAR member John Bolger.

THE City of Ballarat marked National Refugee Week with a flag raising event and civic reception on Monday. Presented by the Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council, a series of events will be held across the city in support and recognition of refugees and asylum seekers.

Refugee Week is celebrated from Sunday 18 June to Saturday 24 June and is a full and extended week with events on a nine-day calendar organised by Ballarat Regional Asylum Seeker Support Network (BRASSN) involving many agencies and community volunteers. The City of Ballarat has a strong commitment to welcoming and supporting migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.

•In 2013, Ballarat Council declared the municipality a Refugee Welcome Zone, which commits it to welcome and uphold the rights of refugees in our community and to demonstrate compassion and enhance cultural and religion diversity.

•In 2013 Ballarat Council also signed up to the Australian Human Rights Commission campaign to stamp out racism ‘Racism. It Stops with Me’. •In 2015, a delegation of Ballarat civic leaders met with Federal and State politicians to promote the Ballarat Regional Settlement Advocacy Committee (BRSAC) strategy to make Ballarat a preferred destination for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.

•In May 2016, Council resolved to sign the commitment to participate in the ‘Welcoming Cities Network’ and join a national network of inclusive, vibrant communities internationally recognised for their ability to foster belonging and participation, and address and embrace the challenges and opportunities of migration. Organisers of Refugee Week, Ballarat Refugee and Asylum Seekers Support Network BRASSN, auspiced by Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council, congratulated the Council’s wholehearted commitment and their steps to realise this commitment. Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council Executive Officer said: “Refugee Week is a great collaboration in Ballarat. We invite everybody to attend at least one event on the calendar. For the rest of the year we are also working with partners on many fronts to include migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in opportunities for Ballarat people: This week Ballarat community can enjoy morning teas, luncheons, breakfasts, a film festival and many library activities. “Through Refugee Week activities the community will be engaged in discussions on how to support that initiative with practical action. The program of events is available at the Ballarat library, ww.brmc. org.au and Ballarat Refugee Week on Facebook.”