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Council

Refugee Welcome Zone declaration formalised

12 May 2021

20210512_RWZ Declaration_SDRC Mayor Vic Pennisi_RCOA_SDRAMN

Fiori Cruz (SDRAMN), Paddy O’Leary (SDRAMN), Anne Wilson (SDRAMN), Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi, Beata Ostapiej-Piatkowski (RCOA), Sue Frances (SDRAMN)

At Council’s Ordinary Meeting on 12 May 2021, Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi signed the official Refugee Welcome Zone (RWZ) Declaration in front of representatives from Southern Downs Refugee and Migrant Network (SDRAMN) and Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA).

RCOA Board Member and Romero Centre Manager with Mercy Community Services in Brisbane, Beata Ostapiej-Piatkowski said she was elated when she first heard the news that the Southern Downs would join the initiative.

“I am so excited that the Southern Downs is joining the Refugee Welcome Zone. This move is truly significant for RCOA, refugees and for myself as a Queenslander,” Ms Ostapiej-Piatkowski said.

“There are currently 168 Refugee Welcome Zones in Australia, and local councils as the government closest to the people, have always played an important role in assisting refugee settlement and promoting community harmony.

“Becoming a Refugee Welcome Zone is a way to continue this tradition and ensure we build resilient, inclusive and thriving communities.”

Becoming a RWZ can result in many positive outcomes to a community, including encouraging new residents into the region, providing a younger workforce with a wide range of skills, boosting allied services and education and building a strong, socially cohesive community that fosters a culture of mutual respect and appreciation for cultural differences.

SDRAMN’s Anne Wilson said that Council’s move to sign the declaration recognises the leadership role that Council has in welcoming refugees.

“The Southern Downs Refugee and Migrant Network welcomes the signing of the declaration by the Southern Downs Regional Council to become a Refugee Welcome Zone,” Ms Wilson said.

“It demonstrates the Southern Downs Regional Council’s support for refugees and also recognises the leadership role that Council has in fostering an inclusive community.

We are fortunate to live in a welcoming, generous and peaceful community and we feel we have much to offer and share with those less fortunate.”

Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi said the region has a rich history in supporting migrants and refugees.

“Southern Downs is a great place to live, work, play and stay and we already see the proof of that in the community in the diverse group of new residents who are conferred at our regular Citizenship Ceremonies,” Mayor Pennisi said.

“The region has a strong spirit of inclusiveness across all community groups and this encourages a welcoming atmosphere to all who choose to make the Southern Downs their home.”

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