Refugee Welcome Zone
Mildura Rural City Council was declared a Refugee Welcome Zone in 2002. This declaration is a public commitment in spirit to:
- Welcoming refugees in to our community,
- Upholding the human rights of refugees,
- Demonstrating compassion for refugees, and
- Enhancing cultural and religious diversity in our community.
What is a Refugee Welcome Zone?
An initiative of the Refugee Council of Australia, a Refugee Welcome Zone is a is a Local Government Area which has made a 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.
This public commitment is also an acknowledgment of the tremendous contributions refugees have made to Australian society in the fields of medicine, science, engineering, sport, education and the arts. By making this Declaration, it is hoped that local government will be encouraged in their continuing efforts to support the men, women and children who make the difficult journey to Australia to seek our protection.
Refugees in our community
The 2011 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) census recorded 50,979 people residing in the Mildura Rural City Council local government area. Around 10.1 % of the local area’s population recorded that they were born overseas and 9 % of the population speak a language other than English at home.
ABS census data does not adequately capture some of our more recent arrivals including refugee and humanitarian visa holders as well as secondary and skilled migrants. For various reasons, many community members will not participate in the census; this is something that is being addressed through education and awareness for new and emerging communities.
2011 ABS data for Mildura does not capture the real number of community members who are living in our region who were born in countries such as Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Burundi and India.
Sunraysia Mallee Ethnic Communities Council (SMECC) has provided refugee settlement support services through a range of programs since 1998. Over the past twelve months (2014-15) The Sunraysia region has welcomed almost 120 newly arrived refugees, including 40 families. In addition, the region also hosts number of new Asylum Seeker community members who reside here while waiting for their residency status to be resolved. Most of our new community members come from Afghanistan followed by Sri Lanka, Burundi, Congo, Sri Lanka and Iraq.