Firstly, thank you.
2018 has been a massive year for many people. For Welcome to Australia, it’s meant thousands of refugees, people seeking asylum and recently arrived migrants have been able to find a sense of belonging and participate in Australian life.
English classes, campfire stories, emergency relief, community dinners, sports and recreation opportunities, employment, mentoring, media events, national campaigns, research projects and forums have marked a busy year.
Our program reach and impact extended by more than 200 percent, into a further 15 cities and regions. The members (Local Councils) of Welcoming Cities now represent 15 percent of the Australian population (more than 3.5 million people) and our advice has been sought, from all levels of government, in relation to how we can create a welcoming and inclusive Australia.
For our partners, members, supporters and the amazing people we work with, and are inspired by every day, we trust that it has brought some sense of hope and advanced welcoming and inclusion in their own lives and the life of their communities.
For us, the single word that has defined the people we work with, iscourage.
Striving for positive and meaningful change, requires courage.
The courage to be welcoming and inclusive, in the face of strategies from the playbook of fear.
The courage to advance research and evidence-based policy and practice, in the absence of principled leadership.
The courage to engage in partnership and invite everyone to the table, when division and self-interest offers an expedient route.
The courage to endure the consequences of unreasonable ideology, where the concept of hope seems fanciful and dangerous.
Thank you for your courage and support in 2018. Thank you for demonstrating the best of who we can be.
Whatever 2018 has held for you, I hope that we can continue to work together in the new year. And that we would continue to have the courage to imagine and pursue what it might require for everyone to belong, contribute and thrive in a welcoming Australia.