Refugee Week 2015 in Shepparton

Refugee Week 2015 was celebrated in Shepparton with many events. There was a launch event in Maude Street Mall, a display of traditional costumes from different cultures, a free movie night, Conversational English classes and intercultural story telling. The theme was With Courage Let Us Combine, and this was highlighted by the many organisations who combined to present Refugee Week in Shepparton.

Refugee Week was launched in Maude Street Mall with story book reading, a presentation of cultural songs from Maguire College's Marimba Mojo Choir and Children from Arthur Dickman Children's Centre. The Damarmo Bangerang Indigenous group also presented two indigenous dances in the Mall. There was also a tea-tasting event with teas from different nations.

It takes courage to be a refugee: As people who have faced persecution because of who they are (their race, nationality or membership of a persecuted group) or what they believe (their religion or political opinion), refugees need courage:

  • The courage not to deny identity or beliefs in the face of persecution.
  • The courage to leave all that is familiar and step into the unknown in search of peace.
  • The courage to keep going in the face of devastating loss, difficulty and despair.
  • The courage to begin again, to work hard and to maintain hope in an unfamiliar land.

Traditional Costumes Display

GOTAFE Multicultural Education Centre put on CELEBRATE - a display of traditional costumes from different cultures. All students from the Multicultural Education Centre provided foods for a luncheon.


Traditional costumes on display at GOTAFE Multicultural Education Centre

Free Movie Night

There was a Free Movie Night on Wednesday 17 June. Traditional Sudanese food was served before the movie screening. The Good Lie was written by Margaret Nagle, directed by Philippe Falardeau, and produced by Ron Howard amongst others. They were known simply as 'The Lost Boys.' Orphaned by the brutal Civil war in Sudan that began in 1983, these young victims travelled as many as a thousand miles on foot in search of safety. Fifteen years later, a humanitarian effort would bring 3600 lost boys and girls to America. The screening was a sell-out event with all tickets booked. Community Development Worker Thon M. Thon, of the Ethnic Council, spoke before the screening of his own experiences as a refugee.


Thon speaks at the Free Movie Night

Intercultural Story Telling

The Refugee Week theme has a number of important functions:

  • It raises awareness of the issues affecting refugees. The theme aims to highlight aspects of the refugee experience and help the broader community to understand what it is like to be a refugee.
  • It helps to make Refugee Week a national celebration. The theme provides a focal point for events across Australia, uniting separate activities into a single nationwide celebration.
  • It promotes harmony and togetherness. The theme unites individuals, communities and organisations from many different backgrounds behind a common cause. The common theme is a reminder that, regardless of our differences, we all share a common humanity.
  • It broadens the impact of Refugee Week. The theme provides a common, cohesive message which can be promoted across the country, helping to maximise the effectiveness of awareness-raising activities.

Shepparton Interfaith Network, in collaboration with Shepparton Library hosted an Intercultural Story Telling, with presenters from different cultures sharing their refugee narratives. These were stories of people who had settled in Shepparton. Eliazabth Kawal and Nyandeng Ajak both migrated to Shepparton from South Sudan; Ms Kawal in 2008 and Ms Ajak in 2007.


Other speakers on the evening told of years spent in refugee camps in Ethiopia, Indonesia and Malaysia, and the challenges that come from settling in a strange land. The storytelling was viscereal - it brought to life in simple, stark language the hidden emotions and experiences that come with travel to Australia and settlment in Shepparton.

The theme for Refugee Week 2015 is taken from the second verse of National Anthem, Advance Australia Fair:

Beneath our radiant Southern Cross,
We’ll toil with hearts and hands;
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands;
For those who’ve come across the seas,
We’ve boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
To Advance Australia Fair.


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