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Refugee Week 2006- Australian Red Cross calls for compassion and understanding

Monday October 23, 2006

Australian Red Cross this week celebrates the vital contribution made by refugees to Australian society, and urges all Australians to consider the plight of those forced to leave their homelands through persecution with the compassion and generosity that is deserved.

'We are incredibly fortunate in Australia to have free and democratic systems of government, excellent education standards and freedom from religious persecution,' said Robert Tickner, CEO of Australian Red Cross. 'In Refugee week it is crucial that we take the time to place ourselves in the position of those who are not so fortunate -- those who have suffered for their race, religious or political beliefs, or even their nationality.'

'Everyone deserves the opportunity to live free of this sort of persecution. Refugee week is our opportunity to consider the plight of those who are not so fortunate, those who have come to Australia to seek a future for themselves and for their families.'

Australian Red Cross provides a broad range of services for vulnerable people, including specific programs for asylum seekers awaiting determination of the applications for refugee status and an extensive tracing service that helps put families back in touch following separation due to conflict or disaster.

Hang Vo, of Melbourne came to Australia in 1978 as part of the first wave of Vietnamese boat people. As a seven year old who lived in the Malaysian refugee camp, Hang learned first hand the valuable contributions that organisations like the Red Cross make to those fleeing their homeland. This inspired her to become a humanitarian worker and today she heads the International Tracing, Refugee and Asylum Seeker service at Australian Red Cross and has led operations in Bali, tsunami affected regions and most recently, Pakistan.

'Australian Red Cross has a number of former refugees working in significant roles within the organisation -- all of these people have an incredible story to tell, and all of them are making a truly significant contribution to our organisation and to the broader community,' said Mr Tickner.