Do you know that Refugee Week has been observed in Australia for over 30 years?
Refugee Week is celebrated annually in mid June, incorporating World Refugee Day on June 20. This is a time when Australians can acknowledge the contributions that refugees and asylum seekers have made to our country, and also for us to learn about the challenges many refugees face as they re-establish themselves and their communities in a new land.
YPRL's 9 Library branches are spread across the cities of Whittlesea, Nillumbik and Banyule. The culturally-diverse community includes recent arrivals from Iran, Iraq, Myanmar, Somalia and Syria - many of whom are refugee and asylum seekers.
To help us better serve our users, staff recently attended some training in Cross-cultural Responsiveness. This is the ability to learn from and relate respectfully to people of different cultures. It’s about developing empathy, and a curiosity to learn, about looking beyond visible differences to find shared values (such as hobbies, our love for our families, or a shared enjoyment in good food!) Learning cross-cultural skills helps YPRL support our refugee and asylum seeker community, by communicating more effectively, and by making our services more attractive and accessible.
This year’s theme for Refugee Week is A World of Stories. What better place to support this idea than our public libraries? Not only do we offer stories and information about different cultures and human experiences (and across different formats too, including books, audiobooks and DVDs), we also offer welcoming spaces where people can meet, interact and share their stories.
At YPRL we are helping to support refugees and asylum seekers in a number of ways. In addition to regular events such as English classes, playgroups and social groups, we have organised a number of special events for Refugee Week. From a film screening, to YA book group discussions, to speakers from Montmorency Asylum Seekers Support Group at Watsonia and Eltham Libraries, Amnesty International and a Donation Drive, come along and be entertained, be informed and be moved by stories of peril, resilience and hope.
Refugees and countries in strife - Seeking a better life can lead to some amazing stories of strength and survival. These picture books span the spectrum of allegory tales about bears and monkeys, to real life experiences.