City of Parramatta is set to join the nationwide Refugee Welcome Zone initiative, demonstrating its commitment to welcoming refugees into the community and enhancing cultural diversity.
The decision to become a Refugee Welcome Zone was formally endorsed at a Council meeting on 10 October, following strong support from local organisations and service providers. An initiative of the Refugee Council of Australia, the zones recognise local government areas dedicated to welcoming refugees while acknowledging the contribution they make to Australian society.
“The Council and this community have a long history of supporting refugees. For many years we have provided a variety of services that enable local refugees and our wider culturally diverse population to fully participate in the City,” City of Parramatta Administrator Amanda Chadwick said. “So this was a logical step which demonstrates our commitment to supporting refugee settlement, and promoting harmony and social cohesion within our community.”
The Refugee Welcome Zone is one of a number of initiatives aimed at providing a more coordinated approach to supporting refugees, including the recently announced Parramatta Skills Exchange (PSX) program which involves the training and engagement of young, unemployed and under-employed workers and refugees to develop their skills for the workplace.
“We will continue to work with local organisations, schools and support groups to recognise the significant contributions refugees make to our economic, social and cultural life,” Ms Chadwick said.
Endorsement of the Refugee Welcome Zone was made following written requests from Jesuit Refugee Service, Sisters of Mercy Parramatta and the Refugee Council of Australia. Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) Acting Chief Executive Officer, Tim O’Connor said he is pleased Council has adopted the program.
“It’s one of the most simple and effective ways local councils can exercise positive leadership on refugee issues and promote an appreciation of cultural diversity,” Mr O’Connor said. A civic ceremony for the public signing of the Refugee Welcome Zone Declaration will be held by the end of the year.