Tweed Shire Council, which last year voted to become a ‘Refugee Welcome Zone’, will formalise its status at a free public screening of the documentary Mary Meets Mohammad, at The Regent Cinema in Murwillumbah on February 7.
A Refugee Welcome Zone is a local government area that has made a commitment in spirit 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.
The Refugee Welcome Zone initiative began in June 2002 as part of Refugee Week celebrations.
Tweed mayor Katie Milne said the motion to declare the shire a Refugee Welcome Zone was passed unanimously at council’s September meeting..
Byron and Ballina councils also made the pledge last year, and Lismore has been a part of the initiative for a number of years.
Cr Milne said the council was ‘pleased to extend a very warm welcome those who have been granted refuge in Australia’.
‘Showing the hand of compassion and friendship to those who have been through such terrible times is a fundamental expression of our humanity,’ Cr Milne said.
‘Even simple gestures of welcome can make an incredible difference to people’s lives and makes us all better people,’ she added.
‘I encourage the community to get involved with this great program and spread the word,’ she said.
The matinee screening will include an official signing of the Refugee Welcome Zone Declaration.
Entry will be free to the 2pm screening of the feature-length film, which tells the story of Tasmania’s first detention centre and the bond that formed between local Christian woman Mary and Muslim Afghan Hazara asylum seeker Mohammad.
Mary is a staunchly Christian pensioner, and did not welcome the 400 male asylum seekers, but develops a friendship with Mohammad after her knitting club donates woollen beanies to the asylum seekers.