Human rights lawyer Fadak Alfayadh

IT is Refugee Week, celebrating the asylum seekers and refugees who have chosen to call the Bendigo area home.

City of Greater Bendigo mayor Margaret O’Rourke says many refugees and asylum seekers from around the world have settled in the region.

“This year marks 16 years since greater Bendigo declared itself a refugee welcome zone by supporting programs, activities and events that help asylum seekers and refugees settle in the community,” Cr O’Rourke said.

“Refugees make a significant contribution to our community and our local economy and refugee week is an opportunity to raise awareness of the issues affecting them and to also celebrate the positive contribution they have made and continue to make.”

This year’s theme – #withrefugees – aims to encourage the broader community to support and celebrate people from refugee backgrounds who are living in the Bendigo area.

This year, the council hosted two key events.

The first was a recognition dinner for businesses supporting people from refugee backgrounds which took place at the Bendigo Tennis Centre on Wednesday.

In partnership with the city, Rural Australians for Refugees, Bendigo Community Health Services and Multicultural the event saw experts sharing their views and experiences related to supporting the employment of asylum seekers and refugees in local businesses.

The second event featured Fadak Alfayadh who spoke about her life as both a refugee and human rights lawyer in her campaign Meet Fadak which was held yesterday at La Trobe University’s McKay Lecture Theatre.

Ms Alfayadh aims to change the way the community sees refugees and to improve the national discourse occurring in the area.

Other events which took place during the week included screenings of the film Human, a multicultural bookmaking and story time sessions at Kangaroo Flat and Golden Square primary schools, a refugee women’s lunch, Bring a Friend community lunch, schools debate, Parky’s

Family Fun Day, Give Welcome, Give Hope talk by Jessica Hackett and a special forum supporting businesses to reach new markets.

“The council is proud to support the program full of events which aligns with out cultural diversity and inclusion plan objectives to provide opportunities for the community to increase their understanding of, and empathy for, residents from culturally diverse backgrounds,” Cr O’Rourke said.