A Refugee Welcome Zone is a Local Government Area which has made a commitment to welcoming refugees into the community, upholding the human rights of refugees, demonstrating compassion for refugees and enhancing cultural and religious diversity in the community.
On 24 June 2014, Council signed on as the 31st Victorian municipality to be formally declared as a designated Refugee Welcome Zone. The Borough marked the occasion by holding a public signing ceremony in front of regional partners, community members, and new migrants - including refugees and asylum seekers, together with local families, friends and supporters.
Borough of Queenscliffe Mayor, Cr Helene Cameron together with Cr Sue Wasterval led the formal signing ceremony with representatives from the Refugee Council of Australia, Diversitat, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and the Executive Committee of Queenscliffe Rural Australians for Refugees.
To demonstrate our status as a Refugee Welcome Zone, Council is happy to promote local Refugee Week events and activities, please contact Council’s Community Development team on 5258 1377 for more information.
On Thursday 30 July, the Borough of Queenscliffe hosted an event at the Town Hall to celebrate the first anniversary of the Borough being declared a Refugee Welcome Zone.
The event was attended by over 40 local community representatives and 20 Afghani, Tibetan, Iraqi, Bosnian, Kareeni, Iranian, Karen and South Sudanese refugees. The evening included speeches from Suzanne Cooper from Diversitat, Sue Longmore from the Queenscliff Rural Australians for Refugees, Les Harrison from the Uniting Church Outreach Group and Shirley Hurley from the Trinity Aid for Refugees. These speakers gave a great insight into the work that is being done to support refugees in our community and the region.
Special guest, Tereza Gum from South Sudan, a single mother of 8, spoke about her experience of being in Australia for the last 12 years. Tereza spends her time supporting new arrivals, volunteering in her local church community and emphasised her appreciation for the opportunities she has been given in Australia.
In her welcome address Mayor, Cr Helene Cameron, said “I am proud of our decision which reflects our commitment to the notion of compassion and extending the hand of friendship to those starting a new life in a new land free from persecution and violence.”
If you would like to know how to get involved with the groups that support refugees in our community please contact Council.
The Borough of Queenscliffe is proud to have a number of local community groups have actively support refugees and asylum seekers. Below is a description of their key activities and contact details.
Queenscliff Rural Australians for Refugees (RAR)
Contact: Sue Longmore
Queenscliff RAR is a community group active on the Bellarine Peninsula and the Geelong region in Victoria. We are part of the wider RAR grass-roots movement across Australia. RAR involves voters of all persuasions working solely for a more humane and welcoming policy towards asylum seekers and refugees.
We offer friendship, support and advocacy to asylum seekers and refugees.
We provide support to refugees and asylum seekers families.
We lobby MPs for key refugee policy reform.
We raise community awareness about issues affecting asylum seekers and refugees.
We raise funds to assist refugees and asylum seekers.
Ongoing projects include ‘support packs’ of supplies to asylum seekers iving in Geelong area;conversation English; RAR market stalls.
Regular emails and newsletters are available.
Uniting Church (Outreach Group)
Contact: Les Harrison
Phone: 5258 3849 or 0409 874 548
Queenscliff-Point Lonsdale Uniting Church
Contact: Jan Hodge
Community Development Coordinator
Phone: 5258 2854 or 0429 356 230
We assist Diversitat in Geelong with a range of activities related to their refugee resettlement programs.
We host groups in Queenscliff as part of their orientation with Geelong and district.
We host picnics where refugee families travel to Queenscliff, enjoy a meal in the church buildings with the local community and explore the local area.
We have hosted smaller numbers of single nationality visitors for the day providing lunch and including a ferry trip to Sorrento and back. We have also done this in conjunction with the local Men’s Shed group.
We support the Men’s Shed bike restoration program for refugees by selling children’s bikes from the Vestry Shop and thus raising funds to pay for parts for those bike repairs and also storing repaired bikes for pick up by Diversitat staff from time to time.
We organise and raise funds for what has become an annual weekend camp for young adults. This has involved interaction with other local groups such as the Queenscliff netball club and the Men’s Shed. The Light Up A Life fundraiser has been held around Christmas time for the last three years to assist with this initiative.
We have hosted a number of dinners for the local community where members of a particular nationality prepared a meal using their traditional foods and cooking styles. At times when either friends or refugees or both have needed support for reasons such as tragedy or great stress we have provided a venue for vigils where all concerned can support and comfort each other.
The church is a collection point for donations of food and day to day essentials such as toothpaste, toiletries etc, which are distributed by RAR to new arrivals in the form of “Welcome Packs” and food parcels.