Refugee Council of Australia

Storytelling is the basis of community program that is dispelling negative perceptions of refugees and building community cohesion at the same time.

Grant Type
Community
Focus
Social Cohesion
Date
2022
Partner

In schools, community groups and business places across Australia, the stories of refugees and their resettlement journeys are being told by those who know it best – the refugees themselves.

Thanks to the Refugee Stories for Change (formerly known as Face to Face: School and Community Program), an initiative from the Refugee Council of Australia (RCoA), refugees are being given the opportunity to train as public speakers and storytellers. After training, they put those skills into practice in formal community education sessions, sharing stories of coming to Australia and the building a new life in a foreign land.

“Throughout my time as a speaker, I have witnessed the positive impact of the discussion that follows my presentations and the value of creating a safe space for community members to ask questions and learn from a first-hand experience,” says Samah, a participant of the program in NSW.

“These instances have often led to new ideas and lessons learned for everyone involved, but they have also given me the chance to reflect on my story and the issues and challenges of my community.”

Refugees Stories for Change was created by RCoA to dispel negative perceptions about refugees and foster a deeper understanding of the valuable contributions refugees make to our communities. Training includes effective storytelling, collaborative engagement and audience-specific planning, and is supported by mentoring and mental wellbeing coaching.

The Bennelong Foundation provided funding to the refugee ambassador program in April 2023, helping it to deliver over 80 speaking engagements by 31 refugee speakers to more than 6,000 people. Each speaker is paid for their time and the networking that happens on the sidelines of the events has led to further speaking engagements and even job opportunities. For example, Samah from NSW was able to secure a role working for the UNCHR for 12 months (she is now working on her research project at UNSW).

Continuous evaluation of the program shows a heightened understanding among audience members of the refugee journey and a positive shift in attitudes toward refugees and people seeking asylum. Crucially, misconceptions about refugees significantly decreased within both the program's audiences and their broader networks.

Learn more about Refugees Stories For Change here.

Impactful results

Making positive change

The Refugee Council of Australia has enabled refugees participate in education and employment opportunities.

Outcome

Better access to the training and skills refugees need to find a job, earn an income and become self-supporting.

Outcome

More opportunities for refugees to learn, work and connect with others, and to have a voice.

I have witnessed the value of creating a safe space for community members to ask questions and learn from a first-hand experience.

Samah

Refugee Ambassador

Image Gallery

Explore more stories of impact

Read how our partners are creating opportunities for people to shape their own futures.