More than 200 staff, students and local community members gathered on campus to share stories and discuss issues faced by refugees and asylum seekers in Australia at the recent Freedom From Fear conference, made possible by a Macquarie University Diversity Grant.
“The conference gave refugees and asylum seekers a platform and a voice to share some very moving and powerful stories,” said Equity and Diversity Officer Svetlana Martynovich. “It encouraged collaboration in the refugee sector, unity around social justice and raised the profile of Macquarie in supporting active community engagement.”
Organised by Law and Social Science student (and Widening Participation team member) Hina Khan, Freedom From Fear brought together local not-for-profit ogranisations with students from Macquarie’s Amnesty International, Students for Community Legal Engagement and ‘I’M COLOURBLIND’ groups.
“The conference was designed to engage our community and explore asylum seeker and refugee issues in a humane and holistic way,” said Hina.
Speakers included alumnus Maxwell Vanday, NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma representative Jasmina Bajraktarevic-Hayward, and Australian Labor Party Senator Sam Dastyari, all of refugee backgrounds.
The conference also featured performances by the Treehouse Theatre, henna painting and kite making workshops, migrant and refugee resettlement volunteers and an exhibition highlighting some of the conditions refugees face in camps.
Praised by Executive Director of Refugee and Casework Serivce, Tanya Jackson-Vaughn said the event helped to create a new discourse on refugees.
“Feedback from the event has been extremely positive with many saying the conference gave them hope, inspiration and provided them with tools to discuss the issues in an informed way,” said Hina.
Hina says a number of attendees now plan to get involved in our LEAP Mentoring Program.
See the full list of 2014 Diversity Grants and find out more about how to get involved.