Supporting refugees through a homestay program facilitated by the Ballina Region for Refugees group has demonstrated a successful way to ensure that refugees feel welcome and that local hosts can learn about why people have become refugees, fleeing their own country.
In fact Gunela Astbrink, president of Ballina Region for Refugees, will be running a workshop on ‘home hosting’ at the Rural Australians for Refugees National Conference in Albury/ Wadonga this April.
‘Over 70 refugees have stayed with local host families in the region and experienced a warm welcome. At the same time, local hosts have learned about the bravery of people who have fled danger to seek safety in Australia and to build a new future,’ said Gunela.
Five local refugee groups from Ballina, Lismore, Uki, Federal and Pottsville recently came together to hear from the president of the of Rural Australians for Refugees, Marie Sellstom talking about how to help refugee contribute towards Australian society.
Marie said ‘there is growing concern in regional and rural Australia regarding refugee issues and the role Australia should play now and in the future. More and more concerned and committed individuals want to support refugees so that they in turn can contribute to the Australian community in future.’
The national refugee conference in April will have keynote speakers Julian Burnside AO QC, Emeritus Professors Gillian Triggs, Stuart B. Hill and Sr Jan Barnett as well as a series of workshops for participants to learn more about helping refugees in Australia.
For more information on your local refugee groups and the national conference on refugees visit their webpage Rural Australians for Refugees.