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Local refugees have shared their stories of courage and resilience in a series of video clips produced by Advance Diversity Services (ADS) in partnership with Georges River Council and Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS) to be screened on social media during Refugee Week from June 14 to 20.

Filmmakers Bebi and Liz Zekirovski shot the three short videos aware of the complexities of refugee issues and informed by a recent trip to Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, where more than a million Rohingya refugees are living in cramped and unsanitary conditions after fleeing violence and abuse in neighbouring Myanmar.

The Zekirovski’s will feature as part of a Facebook Live event hosted by ADS on Thursday June 18 at 4pm in which the videos of the refugees’ stories will also be shown. Join the event live via the ADS Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/advancediversityservices/ (registration not required).

Sydney-based Rohingyan refugee Sajeda Bahadurmia, who appears in one of the videos, said, ‘Refugee Week is very important for me. I am happy to speak out. The world needs to know what is happening to my people.’

ADS Chief Executive Officer Antoinette Chow said refugees across the world were facing the danger of displacement exacerbated by the global coronavirus pandemic.

‘We hope that the videos and the Facebook Live event will raise awareness in the community of the reasons refugees flee to Australia,’ Ms Chow said ‘We also want to show people how they can make refugees feel welcome.’

Councillor Kevin Greene, Mayor of Georges River Council, said in the last five years, Georges River Council has welcomed over 100 refugees into the area.

‘Every refugee seeking safety brings their own story of why they left home and their journey to find safety here. The sharing of stories is an opportunity to not only remember and honour their journey, but also to raise awareness to better understand the contribution that refugees make in society.

‘Georges River Council is proud to be a Refugee Welcome Zone. We are committed to welcoming refugees into the community, upholding the human rights of refugees, demonstrating compassion, and enhancing cultural and religious diversity in our community.’

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To maintain social distancing and keep people safe during the Covid-19 pandemic, Refugee Week events in 2020 will be held online from June 14 to 20.

Read more about Advance Diversity Services’ work with asylum seekers and refugees here.

The Refugee Advice and Casework Service is a strong, independent public voice for the rights of refugees and people seeking asylum.

The Georges River Local Government Area is an official Refugee Welcome Zone and supports the annual Refugee Week event and celebrations.

BebiZekirovski’s A Silent Agreement (2017) was the first Australian feature film to showcase Auslan (Australian sign language). Liz Zekirovski appeared in the film.

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Media contact for more information:Jenny Tang, 9597 5455, jennyt@advancediversity.org.au

Caption: Refugee Week 2020, Year of Welcome

(image source: https://www.refugeeweek.org.au/refugee-week-resources/)

To keep our service consumers, staff and the public safe during the coronavirus pandemic, we are restricting public access to our offices.

We are continuing to provide services but by appointment only or over the phone (9 am – 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday). Please know that the ADS team is here to help.

Call us on (02) 9597 5455 or email us info@advancediversity.org.au and we’ll direct you to the right person.

Stay safe and keep healthy!