Jesuit Social Services staff and volunteers have gathered to acknowledge people forced to flee their homelands, and affirmed our commitment to the fair and humane treatment of all people seeking asylum, at a reflective morning tea to commemorate World Refugee Day and Refugee Week 2022.

Staff from our offices in Dandenong and Collingwood joined our central office staff in Richmond to watch videos of refugee experiences, share reflections on community and welcome prompted by conversation cards from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, and enjoy food prepared by the refugee-owned business Trio Syrian Cuisine, and Oasis and A1 bakeries.

Jesuit Social Services staff and volunteers gather to commemorate World Refugee Day and Refugee Week 2022 in our central office in Richmond, Melbourne.

Staff reflected on the proportion of Australians with connections to other places – nearly one-third of Australians were born overseas, and almost 50 per cent have a parent who was born overseas – and on the uncertainty refugees and asylum seekers continue to face in Australia’s complex and opaque migration system.

Xavier Balkin, NDIS Business Manager, said the event offered an opportunity to consider the everyday actions we can take to contribute to a welcoming and cohesive society.

“Hearing about the hardship a refugee endures at every step – escaping their country of origin, travelling in dangerous conditions and being treated so inhumanely once arriving in Australian detention – was really eye-opening,” he said.

“The discussion really made me think about the amount of scrutiny our society puts refugees through just to experience the simple human freedoms others take for granted.”

Staff watched two videos sharing people’s first-hand experiences of seeking refuge in Australia, including part of an episode of the ABC’s You Can’t Ask that interview program, pictured on-screen.

Jesuit Social Services provides practical support to people newly arriving in Australia through our settlement and community building programs, which strengthen the web of relationships that surround and sustain people, and support people to build the capacity and autonomy required to have agency over their lives.

Through the Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum (CAPSA), which we co-convene with Jesuit Refugee Services Australia, we advocate for a fair and humane migration system that truly welcomes people seeking refuge in Australia.