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Refugee Alternatives Conference:13-14 February 2018

Improving policy, practice and public support.

SCoA staff Jamila attended the Refugee Alternatives Conference hosted by the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) and the Melbourne Social Equity Institute. The two day conference on 13 and 14 of February 2018 was held at the heart of Melbourne, The University of Melbourne. The conference brought together a broad range of expertise covering topics of displacement, protection, cooperation, wellbeing, resilience, education, advocacy and unity.

From the moment of the opening ceremony until the closing ceremony, many of the participants of the conference were able to connect, network and have fruitful discussions on topics related to refugees. The guest speakers covered topics in all areas within local, national, regional and international space. Many of the speakers incorporated their expertise with lived experiences. Just to name a few of the International speakers who captivated the audience were Mr Yiombi Thona from Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network, Deepa Nambiar from Asylum Access Malaysia and Osama Salem from Network for Refugee Voices. There were many other active speakers, moderators and panelist who shared their extensive knowledge on a broad range of topics that would concern refugees and service providers.

Across the two days, Jamila attended a few parallel sessions. The first session was around understanding Australia’s role in the Asia Pacific in response to movements of people seeking protection through the region and what can be done to achieve positive changes as people continue their journey to safety and protection. All the speakers in this session agreed that Australia plays a vital role in assisting refugees in third countries such as Indonesia and also looking into how refugees can have adequate protection in transit countries, of their journey. The 2nd day of the conference looked more into the daily issues that refugees face when settling into a new country. The topics covered pathways from education to employment, self-representation of refugees and also looking deeply into the gaps of legal and health services for refugees in Australia.

As part of the Global Compact on Refugees discussion, the participants of the conference were reminded to gather input into what can the Australian Government do? What can Australian civil society do? And sharing what Australia does well. Participants expressed their ideas by writing it down on the board and some opinions were shared in the closing ceremony.

After the success of the inaugural Refugee Alternatives conference held in 2017, the 2018 conference enabled the participants to further advance discussions ensuring that lived experience and good practices are the foundations of strategic, fair and improved policy development. The Refugee Council of Australia delivered an excellent Conference and many of the participants of the 2018 are quite excited for the 2019 Refugee Alternatives Conference.

Click here to see the coverage of the Refugee Alternatives Conference by SBS.


Refugee Alternatives 2018
Credit: Hayat Akbari


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By Hangama Obaidullah