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Jack Thompson to launch Refugee Speakers Bureau on World Refugee Day

Wednesday June 20, 2007

Embargoed until 12:00am Wednesday June 20 2007

On World Refugee Day, Australian Red Cross is proud to join the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Australian actor and storyteller Jack Thompson to launch the Refugee Speakers' Bureau.

The Refugee Speakers' Bureau helps raise awareness and understanding about refugee issues in the Australian community through the telling of personal stories.

The launch of the Speakers' Bureau will be in Melbourne on World Refugee Day, with the theme Voices of Young Refugees.

Refugee Speakers Bureau - launch details

Wednesday, 20 June, 12.30pm
Conference Centre, State Library of Victoria
Entry 3, La Trobe Street

'Australia has an opportunity to play a key role in assisting those who have suffered persecution,' said Robert Tickner, CEO, Australian Red Cross.

'Hearing someone's personal story is one of the most powerful ways of developing understanding and empathy -- the Refugee Speakers Bureau will be an opportunity to see the world from a totally different perspective,' he continued.

Around the world, addressing the humanitarian needs of refugees is a long-standing activity of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, of which Australian Red Cross is a part.

UNHCR Regional Representative Richard Towle said there was an estimated 40 million displaced people around the world today including refugees, the internally displaced, stateless people and asylum-seekers.

'World Refugee Day is the occasion to remember those tens of millions of refugees and others who have been forcibly displaced, and to recall what makes them different: that they took to the road against their will.'

'It's also a time to honour the courage, resilience and strength of refugees and to give a human face to the people behind the statistics and the all-too-often politicised debate.'

'Behind every statistic is an amazing story of survival and hope. That's why projects which help refugees tell their own stories, in their own voices, are so important,' he said.

Mr Towle and Mr Tickner will be joined at the launch by Australian actor and storyteller Jack Thompson and Iguot Mabor, a young Sudanese refugee who will provide an insight at the launch into her journey to Australia.