BALLARAT will be announced a Refugee Welcome Zone as the Town Hall hosts the Victorian launch of Refugee Week.
Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council CEO and Refugee Week working committee convenor Ann Foley said Ballarat was a popular destination for young refugees.
“Young people are coming here because it has accessible education, a good standard of living and affordability.”
The welcome zone is a Refugee Council of Australia idea, which sees a the council make the following pledge: “A commitment in spirit to welcoming refugees into our community, upholding the human rights of refugees, demonstrating compassion for refugees and enhancing cultural and religious diversity in our community”.
Ms Foley said this was a good opportunity for Australians to make clear they welcomed people on a local level.
“While the national political debate about refugee policy can at times be quite toxic, at the local level many councils are getting on with the job of welcoming new arrivals, promoting people-to-people links and building social harmony.”
One man who has seen this firsthand is runner Duer Yoa, who with his family escaped civil war in what is now South Sudan in 2000, spending two years in Egypt before getting a humanitarian visa and coming to Australia.
“We were welcomed here, I haven’t had any trouble at all since moving to Ballarat (in 2007). People are nice.”