Ryde Council last night voted unanimously to make the city a Refugee Welcome Zone.
The Refugee Welcome Zone program is facilitated by the Refugee Council of Australia and allows Councils to declare their commitment in spirit; to welcoming refugees into the community, upholding the human rights of refugees, demonstrating compassion for refugees and enhancing cultural and religious diversity in the community.
Ryde Labor councillors unilaterally endorsed this move. "It is great for Council to lead the way in fixing our nation's negative perception about refugees and asylum seekers. This declaration means that as a community we will do what we can to help our newest residents." said Clr Jerome Laxale
Prior to the Council meeting a number of Councillors had the opportunity to meet with Paul Power, CEO of the Refugee Council of Australia. Councillors heard about the stories and experiences of refugees who had been resettled in Australia and about the processes for housing asylum seekers in the community whilst their claims were being assessed.
"Today we heard all about the positive contributions made by refugees in our community and that despite the hardships they face on arrival, that they love this country and want to be a part of our society just as much as you and I. As elected leaders, it is important that we unite and highlight the positives of this programme, rather than spread fear and misinformation into our community."
This decision comes as Council prepares to celebrate the opening of the Eastwood Migrant Resource Centre (MRC). The City of Ryde and the MRC have established a twelve month pilot project that will provide community development, group work, information and referral support to meet the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse communities in Ryde.
More information on Refugee Welcome Zones can be found at http://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/g/rwz.php