Refugee Welcome Zone

On 17 June 2014, Council signed the Refugee Welcome Zone Declaration, an initiative of the Refugee Council of Australia. The council has a strong history of welcoming refugees into its community and signing the declaration further highlights our continued commitment to welcoming and supporting refugees, upholding human rights and demonstrating compassion for refugees. Council is also committed to raising awareness about the issues affecting refugees and people seeking asylum, fostering the culture of mutual respect and appreciation of cultural diversity.

The signing ceremony was held at the Laverton Community Hub and also featured a talent show celebrating the artistic talents of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants living in Hobsons Bay.

Council supported initiatives

Council is actively involved in a range of community, service provider and government initiatives, projects, programs and networks to realise its commitment to the Refugee Welcome Zone Declaration. Some of these are listed below, for more information please contact the Community Development Officer – Multicultural Portfolio on 9932 1638 or

  • during Refugee Week each year, Council coordinates and supports a range of activities in Hobsons Bay to raise awareness of, welcome and support refugees and people seeking asylum
  • Council actively supports the Hobsons Bay Intercultural Services Network, a group of service providers and volunteer organisations to improve settlement outcomes for refugees and people seeking asylum in Hobsons Bay
  • in 2018 Council began working with other Victorian Councils advocating on the issue of Status Resolution Support Service (SRSS) program reductions and their impact on people seeking asylum and the broader community. As part of the actions agreed, Council has written to the Australian Prime Minister and the Federal Minister for Home Affairs seeking a reversal of the SRSS program changes and outlining the impact on the Hobsons Bay community and service providers

Who are refugees?

“Any person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his/her nationality and is unable, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country” (The Refugee Convention 1967).

What are the differences between refugees, people seeking asylum and migrants?

The terms ‘refugee', ‘asylum seeker’ and ‘migrant’ are often used interchangeably. However, there are important distinctions in their definitions.

A migrant is someone who chooses to leave their country to seek a better life. They choose where they migrate to and they are able to return whenever they like.

Refugees are forced to flee from their country and cannot return unless the situation that forced them to leave improves. Some are forced to flee without any warning; many have experienced torture and trauma. The motivating factor for refugees is safety and protection from persecution and human rights abuse, not economic advantage.

A person seeking asylum is seeking protection as a refugee and is still waiting to have their claim assessed. Every refugee has at some point sought asylum.

Myths about refugees and asylum seekers

The circulation of myths and misinformation is one of the biggest barriers to understanding the issues affecting refugees and asylum seekers. Visit Refugee Council of Australia website to read about the myths and facts.