What can I do to help a refugee?

World Refugee Day falls on 20 June every year. It was organised by the United Nations to raise awareness about the situation of refugees as well as to celebrate and honour them.

Australia is proud to be home to people from refugee backgrounds. The top ten countries of origin for refugee and humanitarian visas entrants are Iraq, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar, Syria, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iran, Bhutan and Tibet.

What can you and I do to help and support them? Plenty. To begin with, here are 5 ways you can help people from refugee backgrounds thrive in Australia.

  • Volunteer your time, skills and expertise to organizations which assist refugees, such as the Australian Red Cross, St Vincent de Paul and QPASTT (Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma).
  • Donate items that will help refugees – many local organizations such as Romero Centre collect items for distribution. Visit their websites to find out what goods are in demand.
  • Organize your own fun fundraiser to raise funds for refugees. It could be a morning tea, trivia night, silent auction, sausage sizzle, car boot sale – the possibilities are endless. Or why don’t you come up with a new and novel idea?
  • Raise awareness on the plight of refugees. Read up about war-torn countries and share the information to your circle of influence – your family, friends, schoolmates, colleagues, neighbours and more. Discuss what you can do to help and support them.
  • Connect with people from refugee backgrounds. These could be your neighbours, colleagues, suppliers and acquaintances. Go beyond a simple hi and warm smile – strike a conversation and listen to their stories.

Remember that helping others is always meaningful and can be fun as well!

by Maureen Yeow