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Refugee and Humanitarian program

​​​​​​​​​​Resettling those in need 

Australia is celebrating Refugee Week 2023 from 18-24 June. It is an opportunity to reflect on Australia's long history of resettling refugees and others in humanitarian need, and acknowledge the many contributions they make to Australia.

Since the end of the S​econd World War Australia has accepted more than 950,000 refugees and humanitarian entrants. Refugees have brought diversity to our cities, suburbs and towns. This diversity has helped create the Australia that we know and enjoy today.

A message from the Governor-General

​His Excellency General the Honourable David John Hurley AC DSC (Retd) reflects on the many contributions that refugees make to Australia, in this special message.​

Governor-General David Hurley: Diversity is one of our greatest strengths as a nation. We come from different backgrounds,

and have different perspectives and experiences. Yet we are all Australian and we are welcoming people.

Refugee Week is an opportunity to highlight and celebrate the many contributions that refugees

make to Australia, and to broaden Australia's understanding of the challenges of resettlement.

Since the end of the Second World War, Australia has accepted more than 930,000 refugees and humanitarian entrants. They have become a vital and important part of our community. They have helped shape our nation over the last almost 80 years and will continue to do so in the years to come.

This year's theme of Refugee Week ‘Finding Freedom’ invites us to consider the journey of refugees. People who’ve arrived in Australia as refugees have been displaced as a result of conflict, persecution and human right abuses.

I acknowledge the efforts of all in the public and private sectors who have helped refugees to resettle in Australia successfully through their many programs and initiatives.

Refugee Week is an important time in our national calendar. To mark the observance, many Refugee Week related events are being held across the country. Linda and I will have the privilege of participating in a special event in Ballina in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales for local refugees’ families and we are looking forward to it immensely.

To all refugees who now call Australia home, welcome again and thank you for your many contributions that enrich our communities. I wish you a successful week.

The AMEP empowering refugees

Hear how learning English through the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) has helped improve the lives of refugees Totoya and Roya.

Vicky: The AMEP is just a wonderful program, I've just seen it change so many people's lives over the years. The AMEP started in 1948, and this year, it's celebrating its 75th anniversary. This program is an Australian government initiative that provides English tuition to migrants and humanitarian entrants. There's a range of different flexible learning options for students. Some of the students who come here to learn English have never actually been in a classroom before. So the purpose of the program is to teach people English and to help them to settle into Australian society.

Totoya: My name is Khadija Hassan, but most people know me as Totoya, 'cause Totoya's my traditional name. Originally from Sudan, grew up in Kenya as a refugee. So we lived in Kenya for 20 years, before we got resettled into Australia. We still didn't have much of the knowledge, especially in fluent English. And me and my sisters, we were enrolled with AMEP 'cause we were all studying, we were so young and still wanted to continue with my studies and wanted to become a businesswoman.

Roya: My name is Roya, I come from Afghanistan, one year ago. After the Taliban take the Afghanistan control, every situation has changed. After that, I came [to] Australia. Everything is new for me because, in Afghanistan, I [was] educated but I not understand it good for English language. I start again. In Afghanistan, I was spokesperson, minister of woman affairs. I want the social for talking for people, helping for people. This is very good job for me.

Totoya: So when we first started at AMEP, I remember it was a little bit hard and we were a little bit shy 'cause we didn't know anyone apart from my sisters. And the teachers were the best, they're very good, they're very patient, they're very reliable and they're very helpful. They made it so lovely into a way that you will actually love it and you will want to go to class every single morning.

Roya: I study English, my English get better every day. You can know new different places and new different friends and new different cultures. A woman can do everything. But first for woman is very important is talking. Because I am [a] mum, I have kids at home, I don't have a lot of time to study university. This is very good, after that, I want to start job and change my life.

Vicky: We're not just teaching them English, we're not just teaching them how to get into university or go onto the next pathway. They come here, you teach them how to speak English but you foster this amazing relationship with all the students in the class, they make friends. The progression of a student from when they arrive in Australia to years down the track when they've got a job and they're fully settled and integrated into Australia, it's really rewarding.

Totoya: English, it's very, very important, especially in Australia. English is the best way to communicate to everyone. Basically, my advice to everyone who actually moves or migrates to Australia, I think the best thing that you can ever do is actually enroll to AMEP first. They actually ask you about yourself and what you really wanna do, what path you wanna follow, and I really wanted to be a business person and that's what I actually came out with and got. They help you find the path that you want, if you want to continue with the path of university, they still help you through that. If you want to become a business person, they'll still help you there, if you want to become employed, looking for jobs, they still help you through that. So I'll definitely recommend you to go there and get yourself help as well.


Get involved with Refugee Week 2023​

There are many ways you can participate in Refugee Week 2023, whether you’re an individual, community organisation, school, local government, business and sponsor. Visit the Refugee Cou​ncil of Australia to find out how you can be involved.

Success stories

Discover the inspiring stories of refugees who have built new lives in Australia, and the skills and ideas they’ve contributed to our multicultural society.