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Friday, 12 August 2011 14:48

Festival will Highlight Contribution of Refugees to Australian Society

Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia, is one of the organisations that coordinates the Festival of Refugees.

Its Executive Director, Alistair Gee, said, “This annual festival is a wonderful and much-needed opportunity for refugees in Australia to share their stories and their gifts. So much of the public refugee debate in Australia does not include the voices and perspectives of refugees themselves, and features language that dehumanises and even demonises people who flee persecution for a better life.

“Events which give refugees a face and a voice, and help the wider public to understand better what they have been through before arriving in Australia, are vital. This is particularly the case at a time when Australia is seeking to send even children and unaccompanied minors to Malaysia.”

Act for Peace works with refugees and asylum seekers around the world. In Australia, one of its programs involves Healing Trails, which connect refugees to church communities for support and community-building.

Said Ehsanullah Dileri (Said), who arrived in Australia in 2009 after fleeing Afghanistan, participated in the Healing Trail program. He has since become active in his local community, and received the 2011 Victorian Refugee Recognition Record Award. He will share his story at the Festival of Refugees.

“Events like the Healing Trail and Refugee Festival are important for me as a refugee, because they provide a forum to let the public know that refugees add more colour and diversity to Australian society, and at the same time contribute to social, political and economical aspects of life in here,” he said.

This year’s Festival of Refugees is a joint initiative of Act for Peace and the Victorian Council of Churches, in partnership with the City of Port Phillip.

Available for interview: Alistair Gee, Executive Director, Act for Peace; Said Ehsanullah Dileri (Said), Afghan-born Australian permanent resident and recipient of 2011 Victorian Refugee Recognition Record Award; and David Nyuol Vincent, Sudan-born community development worker in Melbourne.

For media enquiries or to arrange interviews, please contact Emma Halgren, Media & Online Coordinator on 0458 303 515 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For more information on the Festival of Refugees, please contact Dr Visier Sanyü, Refugee Coordinator, Act for Peace on (03) 9650 6811 or Cristina Del Frate, Multicultural Liaison Officer, Diversity and Ageing, City of Port Phillip on (03) 9209 6385.

WHAT: Festival of Refugees

WHEN: 3:005:00pm, Sunday 21 August, 2011

WHERE: St Kilda Town Hall, 99A Carlisle Street, St Kilda, Victoria

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