Community opens its arms to plight of refugees

20 Oct 2021

More than 50 people from across the Fleurieu Peninsula, South Coast and the Adelaide Hills attended a recent refugee information event at McLaren Vale hosted by the Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie.

The 'Afternoon With The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre' event on October 13 featured guest speaker Kon Karapanagiotidis, the Chief Executive and Founder of the ASRC; as well as the ASRC's Director of Advocacy and Campaigns Jana Favero.

Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, Kon and Jana appeared via video link from Melbourne. However, Fida Hussain, a member of Welcoming Australia’s Advisory Panel, and Kate Leaney, Welcoming Australia Campaigns and Communications Manager, were able to attend the event at the McLaren Vale Institute to speak in person.

"Kon and Jana were able to provide us with an update with respect to refugee issues in Australia, including the plight of those in Afghanistan," Rebekha said.

"They also spoke about those who have sought protection visas; the uncertain future for those on Manus; and the challenges faced by asylum seekers here in community detention with little or no safety during the COVID lockdowns and no ability for their children to study post-year 12, as they are charged international rates.

"This year the Federal Government reduced our humanitarian intake from 18,750 to 13,750, and I understand the 3,000 Afghans that we have agreed to take are part of that threshold.

"We also heard from Kate Leaney and Fida Hussain from the Welcoming Centre who provided powerful, personal, local stories and a call to action on how we can all help.

"I will be advocating for the Government to consider a refugee sponsorship program where families and communities could sponsor a refugee family seeking safety.

"Australia can do this better. We are a nation with a big heart.

"I would also like to thank the Willunga Circle of Friends who provided volunteer assistance for our very successful event."

Rebekha spoke about the event in Parliament this week, tabling a petition on behalf of the Afghanistan-Australia Advocacy Network. The online petition was signed by over 170,000 people across Australia and urged Prime Minister Scott Morrison to help at-risk groups and to ease the suffering of the people of Afghanistan.

Photo: Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie, left, with guest speakers Kate Leaney, Welcoming Australia Campaigns and Communications Manager, and Fida Hussain, a member of Welcoming Australia’s Advisory Panel, at an asylum seeker information event held in McLaren Vale on October 13.

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