Program

The program for the Refugee Alternatives Conference 2021 can be viewed here.

9:00am - 4:00pm

Culturally Responsive Teaching for Students from Refugee and Asylum-Seeking Backgrounds (SRABs): Showcasing Innovative Pedagogies of Reconnection

Refugee Education Special Interest Group (RESIG) and Western Sydney University. (Closed event for RESIG members)

You can find more information about the event program, speakers and registration on the event flyer.

Online

8:30am - 9:30am

Coffee and Registrations

9:30am - 11:00am

Plenary Welcome & Panel

Host
Kween G

Welcome to Country
Speaker
Uncle Greg Simms 

Welcome to Conference
Speakers
Paul Power Refugee Council of Australia
Leanne Smith Whitlam Institute within Western Sydney University
Peter Shergold AC Western Sydney University, NSW Coordinator-General for Refugee Resettlement

Opening Panel Topic: Rebuilding: Resilience and Innovation
This opening session for Refugee Alternatives 2021 will provide a critical reflection on refugee and asylum seeker matters. It will explore themes of dignity and the importance and impact of language. The panel will take a critical, disruptive and aspirational approach and explore opportunities for change in the sector.

Moderator
Adama Kamara Refugee Council of Australia

Speakers
Atem Atem Refugee Communities Advocacy Network (NSW)
Rahila Haidary Human Rights Advocate
Shukufa Tahiri The National Refugee Advocacy and Advisory Group (NRAAG)

Online

11:00am - 11:30am

Morning Tea

11:30am - 1:00pm

Plenary Panel

Panel Topic: Centering Community Organising and Grassroots Work in the Refugee Sector
This session aims to highlight and increase our awareness and understanding of migrant and refugee community organising and grassroots work in Australia as panelists share their knowledge and experience of how the deepest and most impactful social movement work is often voluntary, embedded in the daily activities of communities, and driven by the leadership of everyday people.

Moderator
Mia-lia Boua Kiernan International Detention Coalition

Speakers
Tina Dixson Forcibly Displaced People Network
Dominic Golding National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA)
Hava Rezaie Refugee's Women Right Advocate
Idrissa Dumbuya People seeking asylum in the African community
Oliver Slewa Shayna Humanitarian, Advocate
Maria Tran Filmmaker/ Community & Cultural Practitioner

Online

1:00pm - 2:00pm

Lunch

2:00pm - 3:30pm

Parallel Session

Discussion Topic: Race, Power and Privilege in Human Rights Work
This session will equip participants with practical awareness and skills to tackle everyday instances of racism and bias in their work. Using an intersectional, feminist framework, this presentation will challenge participants on their own intrinsic biases as well as discuss empowerment, allyship and the importance of lived experience-driven leadership.

Speakers
Elizabeth Lang Diversity Focus (co-facilitator)
Elizabeth Tekanyo Diversity Focus (co-facilitator)
Shabnam Safa National Refugee-led Advisory and Advocacy Group (NRAAG)

Online

2:00pm - 3:30pm

Parallel Session

Panel Topic: Everyone’s business: Supporting mental health and inclusion of LGBTIQ+ people in refugee services
The session will increase understanding about mental health considerations of LGBTIQ+ people seeking asylum and refugees with a particular attention to COVID impact and lessons learned from peer-led support groups. It will provide attendees with tools for inclusion in their services. This session is fully run by people with lived experience of displacement.

Moderator
Tina Dixson Forcibly Displaced People Network

Speakers
Pola Taulafo NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS)
Renee Dixson Forcibly Displaced People Network
Oliver Zafar BridgeMeals VIC
Azlan Ehsani Forcibly Displaced People Network, National Refugee-led Advisory and Advocacy Group (NRAAG)
Francis Jimoh NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS)

Online

3:30pm - 3:45pm

Tea & Coffee Break

3:45pm - 5:00pm

Plenary Closing Session

Panel Special Session: Finding solutions for refugees on TPVs and SHEVs
Refugees on Temporary Protection Visas and Safe Haven Enterprise Visas have been in Australia for at least 8 years, but remain on indefinite temporary visas. The SHEV visa was created to incentivise refugees to take up labour shortages in regional areas, but has failed to do so because of its complicated and unrealistic pathway to permanency.

This panel will look at proposals from the community to reform SHEVs and TPVs to create realistic pathways to permanency for this group of people and help them settle successfully in the Australian community.

Speakers
Asher Hirsch Refugee Council of Australia
Ali Reza Yunespour Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative
Salem Askari Centre for Human Rights Education, Curtin University
Mary Anne Kenny Murdoch University

Online

10:00am - 10:30am

Plenary Conversation and Welcome to Day Two

Host
Kween G

Speakers
Leanne Smith Whitlam Institute within Western Sydney University
Paul Power Refugee Council of Australia

Online

10:30am - 12:00pm

Plenary Panel

Panel Topic: Re-Energising International Responses to Displacement
This session explores how different actors are re-energising responses to forced displacement in the current context and beyond, from rebuilding resettlement, to mobilising communities and following up the commitments made at the inaugural Global Refugee Forum.

Moderator
Sitarah Mohammadi Melbourne-based human rights advocate

Speakers
Danijel Malbasa National Refugee-led Advocacy and Advisory Group NRAAG
Adrian Edwards UNHCR
Robert Hakiza Young African Refugees for Integral Development, Uganda
Naomi Steinberg Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), USA

Online

12:00pm - 1:00pm

Lunch

1:00pm - 2:30pm

Parallel Session

Panel: Australia and the Asia-Pacific
Hear updates on refugees from Myanmar, West Papua and those in Indonesia, and learn about what Australia should be doing to support refugees in our region.

Moderator
Asher Hirsch Refugee Council of Australia

Speakers
Hafsar Tamessedin Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN)
Halima Akhlaqi Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre (CRLC)
Jason Siwat Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands (CBCPNGSI)

Online

1:00pm - 2:30pm

Parallel Session

Panel Topic: Allies, Partnerships and Change
In a sector that is filled with professionals with lived experience, this session will consider current examples of good practice of community led initiatives, as a platform to investigate how we embed these as standard and sustainable solutions; and what needs to change to get us there, including funding.

Moderator
Deena Yako Refugee Council of Australia

Speakers
Anna Robson Refugee Talent
Louna Ghawi Refugee Talent
Dr Meena Chevan Macquarie University
Simon Shahin Face to Face program, Refugee Council of Australia
Skye Trudgett The National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) Blak Impact

Online

1:00pm - 2:30pm

Parallel Session

Panel Topic: Community Refugee Sponsorship in Australia - Paving the Road Ahead
This session will discuss the practical elements of implementing a holistic community-led refugee sponsorship program in Australia.

Moderator
Shabnam Safa Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (CRSI)

Speakers
Shankar Kasynathan Amnesty International Australia
Lisa Button Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (CRSI)
Nicole Watkins Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (CRSI)
Jenny Collins-White End Child Detention Coalition
Michael Lam My New Neighbour

Online

1:00pm - 2:40pm

Parallel Session

Youth Caucus: “Advocacy, Youth Voice and Shaping Policy in the Refugee Space.”
How can young people from refugee backgrounds shape the policies that most affect their lives? What role does storytelling play as an advocacy tool? And how can young people embed their voices in policy development processes.

The Whitlam Institute Youth Caucus brings together young advocates and young people to consider the diverse pathways to creating change. This is for young people and numbers are limited.

You can register your attendance here.

Speakers
Leanne Smith Whitlam Institute within Western Sydney University
Elsie Samano Western Sydney University
Nazanin Sharifi Youth and Refugee Advocate
Alfred Mupenzi Western Sydney University

Closed session for refugee young people aged 16 - 24. Contact Dr Andrea Connor on Andrea.Connor@westernsydney.edu.au for more information. 

Online

2:30pm - 2:45pm

Tea and Coffee Break

2:45pm - 4:15pm

Plenary Closing Panel and Performance

Speakers will share their reflections from conference week, then collate and organise the session outcomes to inform our actions and next steps for 2021.

Moderator
Kween G

Speakers
Deng Thiak Adut Defence Lawyer and Refugee Advocate
Kelly Nicholls Refugee Council of Australia
Paul Power Refugee Council of Australia
Rebecca Eckard Refugee Council of Australia

Online

9:00am - 5:00pm

Refugee Welcome Zone Forum

There are now 170 local councils from around the country that have declared themselves to be Refugee Welcome Zones.

This forum will explore the key role local government plays in supporting refugee settlement and share examples of good practice, innovative solutions and ideas on how local government can work with local residents, community organisations and others to create more welcoming, inclusive, and cohesive communities.

Online

5:00pm - 8:00pm

National Refugee Dialogue with National Refugee-Led Advisory and Advocacy Group (NRAAG)

NRAAG invites members and representatives of Australian refugee communities to help dissect the complexities and opportunities of creating spaces for outcomes-focused, refugee-led voices in key decision making across government and civil society.

Building on discussions from last year, the dialogue will further explore effective models of participation, representation, and accountability needed to enable strategic and collaborative refugee-led advocacy in Australia.

This is a closed session for those with lived experience of seeking asylum or being a refugee. This session follows on from the inaugural dialogue held last year.

NRAAG especially encourages organisations with members/employees from refugee communities to nominate and sponsor them to participate in this important dialogue.

You can register for this event here.

If you have any queries about the dialogue, please contact the NRAAG team at nraagaus@gmail.com.

Online