Screening awareness for refugee week

Ken Loach’s film ‘The Old Oak’ will be screened for Refugee Week at Churches of Christ on 15 June. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

As Refugee Week approaches, communities across the region are gearing up for a series of events aimed at raising awareness and celebrating the contributions of refugees.

The Southern Downs Refugee and Migrant Network (SDRAMN) is leading the charge by hosting a special screening of Ken Loach’s film ’The Old Oak’ at the Churches of Christ Auditorium on Dragon Street. This event will take place on Saturday, 15 June, at 2pm, just ahead of Refugee Week which runs from June 16 to 22.

Refugee Week in Australia is strategically held from Sunday to Saturday, including 20 June, which is World Refugee Day. This annual observance is the country’s premier event for fostering a deeper understanding of refugee issues and celebrating refugees’ significant contributions to Australian society.

The origins of Refugee Week date back to the 1980s, beginning with a modest event in Sydney. The inaugural celebration took place on November 9, 1986, featuring a street procession and picnic lunch organized by Austcare with support from the International Year of Peace Committee. This historic procession from Belmore Park to Sydney Domain included around 200 participants from various refugee communities, including Afghan, Eritrean, South African, Vietnamese, Chilean, and Salvadoran groups.

This year’s theme for Refugee Week is ‘Finding Freedom – Family’.

SDRAMN emphasised that the theme encourages the exploration of refugee stories through the lens of family dynamics, highlighting the support systems that families and communities provide.

“The focus on the theme of ‘family’ for 2024 invites us to explore the refugee stories in the context of finding freedom, the support of parents, the love between siblings or the strength found from extended and chosen families, neighbours and support systems upon arrival in Australia,” said an SDRAMN spokesperson.

Various community organisations will host activities throughout the week to educate the public about refugees, their journeys to Australia, and the challenges they face.

Ken Loach’s film ’The Old Oak’ is a fitting choice for the kickoff event. The film, which depicts the struggles of Syrian refugees in a declining coal mining town in northeast England, does not shy away from portraying the harsh realities faced by both refugees and the local community. This final instalment in Loach’s trilogy on the subject is known for its raw and impactful storytelling, featuring many non-professional actors in significant roles. The film has a Mature rating due to coarse language.

Following the screening, attendees are invited to stay for an afternoon tea. Entrance to the event is by donation, with all proceeds going to support refugee and asylum seeker groups.

For further information, please contact Sue Frances at 0474 342 995.