Refugee Welcome Zone declaration formalised
12 May 2021
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
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.
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.
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