Word Refugee Day

19 June, 2019

The Hon. J.S. LEE (15:47): It is a great honour today to speak about World Refugee Day and the many activities associated with Refugee Week. In 2000, the United Nations General Assembly declared 20June every year to be World Refugee Day. It is a day when the world commemorates the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees. This one-day commemoration has since turned into a week-long celebration in Australia and other countries.

During Refugee Week, people from all walks of life are taking big and small steps in solidarity with refugees. It has been a privilege for me every year to attend several events that celebrate the contributions of our diverse refugee communities in South Australia. Refugee Week provides a platform to promote positive images and stories of refugees and encourage a culture of welcome throughout our country. Australia has been enriched by millions of migrants and refugees since the postwar period. Their courage, resilience, optimism and enterprising spirit have transformed Australia into the proud and successful country it is today.

I offer my heartfelt thanks and congratulations to the Australian Migrant Resource Centre (AMRC) and the South Australian Refugee Week committee for convening another wonderful Refugee Week program this year. Special thanks go to the CEO of AMRC, the wonderful Eugenia Tsoulis OAM, AMRC chair Judge Rauf Soulio and the entire SA Refugee Week committee for their hard work and commitment to bringing together hundreds of organisations and volunteers to host many amazing events throughout South Australia during Refugee Week.

It is my pleasure to highlight some of the events I attended during the week. On Monday 17 June, it was a great honour to launch the 2019 SA Refugee Week. It was a crowded room full of enthusiastic young students, teachers and community leaders. We witnessed a strong partnership between AMRC, the Hawke Centre and the University of South Australia. Thank you also to Jacinta Thompson and Associate Professor Andrew Hill for their great support of the launch of Refugee Week.

I was joined by my colleague the Minister for Education, the Hon. John Gardner, who did a fantastic job launching the Youth Poster Awards Exhibition. The poster competition involved over 300 participants from 50 schools and tertiary institutions. The students applied their artistic talents to raise awareness of refugees and human rights issues. I was very impressed by the students' creative skill as well as the compassion and thoughtfulness demonstrated in their artwork. Well done to all the poster awards winners and finalists. I believe South Australia is a better and kinder place with these young future leaders.

This morning, I was also delighted to launch a women's banners project in Victoria Square. This project combined Refugee Week celebrations and was held in conjunction with the 125th anniversary of women's suffrage in South Australia. I want to express my special thanks to the Minister for Human Services, the Hon. Michelle Lensink, for her support marking the milestone anniversary.

AMRC and the Council of Migrant and Refugee Women have partnered with the Office for Women to display 23 unique portraits of migrants and refugee women in Victoria Square, Adelaide. It was great to see Mrs Carolyn Power, the member for Elder, the Assistant Minister for Domestic and Family Violence Prevention, who was there to join us. Once again, thank you to the amazing Eugenia Tsoulis, the AMRC team and Ms Vanessa Swan, Chair of the Council of Migrant and Refugee Women of SA, for their successful collaboration on the women's banners project.

During Refugee Week, our Governor is also kept pretty busy. The Governor of South Australia, His Excellency the Hon. Hieu Van Le, will be hosting a reception at Government House tomorrow morning, 20 June, to launch World Refugee Day. I am really hoping that my pair request will be granted by the Labor opposition so that I can attend that reception. On a positive note, I wholeheartedly welcome the Premier's decision to extend the Governor's appointment for a further two years. His Excellency, our Governor, is a great asset to our state. His own personal refugee story is a remarkable one and a true inspiration for all of us. Happy Refugee Week, everybody.