“While every refugee’s story is different, and their anguish personal, they all share a common thread of uncommon courage; the courage not only to survive, but to persevere and rebuild their lives.” – Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations/Former UN High Commissioner for Refugees
It’s the 20th anniversary of World Refugee Day (June 20) and hundreds and thousands of people across the globe will take the opportunity to gather together and celebrate the courage and contributions of people with refugee backgrounds.
On a national level, South Australia has the longest history of settling refugees; dating back 170 years to when German Lutherans first arrived after fleeing persecution in Prussia.
Since this time, it’s estimated that 750,000 humanitarian entrants have settled in Australia; making rich contributions to the nation’s community and economic life.
Research has shown that humanitarian entrants record high rates of volunteering as well as significant contributions to business, community leadership, sports, art and science.
Last year, over 1000 humanitarian entrants were settled in South Australia, predominantly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Baptist Care SA has been working with humanitarian entrants in our State since 2006. Today, our flagship program in this area, the Friendship Program, has supported almost 800 refugees and asylum seekers to make a new life in South Australia by matching them to a local friend.
Participants spend 6 hours per month together practising English, sharing meals, discovering each other’s cultures and exploring Adelaide. Over the past 12 years, we’ve seen some amazing things happen as a result of genuine friendships blossoming as people share their experiences, struggles and triumphs.
If you or anyone you know would like to learn more about Baptist Care SA’s Friendship Program, please email the Program Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact 8118 5228.
To find out more about this year’s Refugee Week festivities visit, https://amrc.org.au/events/launch-of-sa-refugee-week
Quotes from Friendship Program participants:
“It’s been great meeting someone from a different cultural background – you find common ground and common interests and learn so much from each other...But for me, the best part’s been I’ve been able to make some new friends.” – local volunteer, Friendship Program
“Hope is like food. Thank you for giving me hope,” – Friendship Program participant, after being introduced to an Australian friend following 17 years in refugee camps.
 Refugee Council of Australia, https://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/getfacts/seekingsafety/refugee-humanitarian-program/history-australias-refugee-program/
 2011, Hugo G Economic, social and civic contributions of first and second generation humanitarian entrants https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/ReportsandPublications/Documents/research/economic-social-civic-contributions-about-the-research2011.pdf