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National Refugee Week: 10 Things You Can Do

This National Refugee Week (19-25 June 2022), here are ten simple and practical things you can do to be a champion for building an inclusive and welcoming Australia.
A Red Cross volunteer, Emilia, at the train station in Lublin, Poland, where refugees from Ukraine are arriving. Photo: International Federation of Red Cross.
We all wonder what more we can do in an increasingly uncertain world.

In countries such as Ukraine or Afghanistan, we have seen conflict unfold, forcing people to leave their homes with only the few personal items they could carry being fearful for their future. In countries, such as Sri Lanka, we have seen the global economy and the rising cost of living pushing people to seek other homes to build a future in.

Here are ten simple and practical things you can do to support people who have just arrived in Australia and make your local community an even more welcoming and inclusive place to live.

➀ Donate

A simple donation can improve the lives of those experiencing vulnerability due to forced migration. Your donation will support our Red Cross and Red Crescent partners to continue their live-saving work, help people overseas, and also help people in Australia locate missing loved ones caught in crises.

You can help by making a tax-deductible donation by clicking here or call 1800 RED CROSS (1800 733 276).

If there is a specific cause you want to give to or support, there are several appeals delivering humanitarian assistance:

➁ Listen and support colleagues, friends, and communities here in Australia

Your family, friends, and colleagues may have lived experience of seeking asylum in Australia and being a refugee, or those who have indirectly been affected by it. Many people who have left their home country, and are witnessing conflict and trauma unfold again, can also cause distress, feelings of being overwhelmed, and can also trigger ‘Survivor’s Guilt’.

You can be a supportive ally by being mindful of your family, friends, and colleagues, acknowledging and listening to how they feel, and encouraging them to take breaks from media coverage. Most importantly, try and resist the urge to offer quick solutions to ‘solve’ their feelings. Simply holding space for them can be invaluable and a practical way of showing your sense of solidarity and support. There are also useful tips on how to respond in a compassion first, trauma-informed way.

➂ Welcome Toolkit: ways young people can act

Use this wonderful Welcome Toolkit for your kids, your friends, and family. Actions are based on what children in primary school and high school have told us they’ve done to foster a more welcoming Australia in their local communities.

If you’re a teacher, you can download this Welcome Toolkit for your school.

➃ Get informed and listen to voices of lived experience

It’s important for all of us to listen, learn, and share the perspectives of people with lived experience of being a refugee. This can help us understand the complexity and impact of the events and situations unfolding, as well as to listen to their advice.

These voices, as well as a range of broader resources, can help answer questions and clarify misconceptions about refugees and people seeking asylum.

To learn more about refugees and people seeking asylum, you can visit:

➄ Invite a guest speaker to your local school (online or in person)

One of the greatest ways to learn about refugees and people seeking asylum is by learning directly from a person with lived experience. By organising an In Search of Safety session for your school or your workplace, you can hear directly about the refugee experience, which can help break down barriers and build understanding.

In Search of Safety reaches up to 20,000 people a year and Red Cross offers this to schools, community groups, and workplaces for a chance to discuss the issues they hear about in the news.

To learn more or book a session, click here.

If we aren’t in your area, or aren't able engage with an online session, Red Cross can help you connect with another local organisation which is, such as The Refugee Council of Australia. 

➅ Volunteer your skills and talents with Red Cross

Red Cross is always looking for talented and passionate volunteers who could offer help with English teaching, navigating life in Australia, or anything else new arrivals may need. All Red Cross volunteers are trained and go through appropriate checks to see if you are right fit.

To find out if we have any volunteer opportunities that are right for you, online or in-person, click here.

You can also look up which organisations in your local area already work with refugees and people seeking asylum and offer your time and talent. There are also .

➆ Register your interest with the Group Mentorship Program

Community Refugee Sponsorship Australia’s 2022 Group Mentorship Program offers a practical way to provide future hands-on support to refugees already in the country.  You may be able to help by forming a mentor group of at least five individuals who live in the same geographic community and are keen to provide practical support to refugees.     

To learn more, click here

➇ Support your local community

Settling into a new country as a refugee can be a long journey. There are many communities across Australia already welcoming refugees and people seeking asylum. Contact your local council, Welcome Australia, or local support groups to see how you can support local efforts. It might be appropriate to reach out directly to your local community to show your solidarity and find out how you can support the community.

The following organisations have some great resources:

➈ Give someone an opportunity through employment

Finding work and a place to call home is one of the highest priorities for refugees in Australia. Most are eager to work but find it hard to access the networks many of us take for granted. If you are an employer or know someone who is, then connecting someone to employment someone can transform their life.

If you’re an employer, Red Cross and our partner agencies can help you find great candidates. 

These organisations also assist refugees and people seeking asylum to find work: 

See also the Humans Like Us refugee employment services directory.

➉ Help a family find a place to call home.

Stable housing is key to our sense of safety, dignity and wellbeing and is the foundation to effective settlement, however many newly arrived refugees can find it hard to secure a home in the private rental market. 

If you’re a landlord or real estate agent, we’d love to hear from you.

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