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2020 RAR CONFERENCE – Sixth National Conference for Rural Australians for Refugees

July 3 @ 6:00 pm - July 5 @ 3:30 pm

The RAR Conference is an event that brings together RAR groups and supporters, refugees and refugees advocates to meet face-to-face, to learn, to share ideas and experiences, to keep up to date with issues and campaigns.  The Conference is an opportunity to build linkages, energy and inspiration that will sustain us in our ongoing efforts for human rights, compassion and justice for refugees and people seeking asylum.


The 2020 Conference is the sixth one to be held.  The 2018 conference was hosted by Albury-Wodonga RAR and was a great success. 

The 2020 Conference is hosted by the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group, led by a small enthusiastic planning group of BMRSG members.


The theme of the Conference is ‘Connecting for Change’. There is a strong focus on hearing the voices of refugees and people seeking asylum, on networking and having time to meet each other, and workshops and speakers that will energise and inspire us.



The Conference will be held at the Hub, Springwood, in the Blue Mountains. It is 1 hour 20 mins from Central Station by train, and about 1 hour 40 mins from the airport, by train.  There is a range of accommodation options available around the conference venue.  We will be putting these details on the website shortly.  We are also asking BMRSG members to open their homes for those wanting billets.



Julian Burnside to lead a conversation with Craig Foster (#gameover campaign) and Angela Fredericks (#hometobilo campaign)  How do we get traction in growing humanity and compassion in this country?  What have we learnt from our experiences?


Keynote speakers:

Arif Hussein, Senior solicitor with Refugee Advice and Casework Service. Prior to this role, he worked for the Human Rights Law Centre, where he defended the rights of refugees and people seeking asylum subject to Australia’s offshore processing regime.

Najeeba Wazefadost is the founder and president of Hazara Women of Australia, helping newly arrived refugee women learn English and more quickly feel part of their new communities.  She arrived in Australia as a refugee from Afghanistan when she was 10 years old.

Father Rod Bower, Anglican priest from Gosford NSW, Renaire Druery, Human Rights Senior Campaigner with Get Up! will join with Arif Hussein in a panel on Human Rights – a strong issue from the 2018 Conference.

There are 18 breakout sessions planned, around themes such as Advocacy, Changing the Conversation, Engaging young people, Resettlement and networking in regional communities. There are also specific skills and networking sessions.  In case you want to have your own topic discussed, we will have a ‘Café Conversation’ time at each of the three breakout sessions.


Breakout sessions confirmed so far:

Heather Kirkpatrick,  the independent filmmaker who recently released the acclaimed ‘Against Our Oath’ documentary feature film (www.againstouroath.com) will lead a workshop on how to use social impact documentaries in your community.

Talia Stump who recently completed a Churchill Fellowship study of resettlement (City to Country Project) link to her website https://citytocountryproject.com/.  Her focus was to understand what makes a rural community attractive and welcoming to refugees.

RAR Student Video and Poster CompetitionLink to RAR website This competition was launched in January as a way to engage young people in thinking about how to make a positive change in attitudes towards people seeking asylum.  Our team has developed a suite of resources for schools to use as part of their curriculum.  We encourage RAR groups to take this to schools in their communities.  Some schools plan to run their own ‘short film festivals’ with the students’ efforts.  School will choose the five best entries into the competition.  We have a team of filmmakers who will choose the video finalists. As well, a team of artists and graphic designers will choose the poster finalists.  These will be shown at the Conference and the winners announced then.

The breakout sessions are still in development – we are keen to involve RAR groups in these so we will be calling some of you soon.

The TAMPA Award will be presented at the end of the Conference.  We are calling for nominations for this Award in February – March. Link to section of website

There is a strong focus on time for networking and sharing experiences between RAR groups, which is what groups have asked for.  Many of us rely on these conferences to have face-to-face time with others, so be assured there will be time for that.



Registrations for RAR groups will open on 1 March.  The special RAR group Early Bird Price will run from 1 March to 30 April.  We will open registrations to others in late April. We know that there will be a lot of interest in this Conference so we hope all RAR groups will be able to send some delegates.




4 – 5pm RAR Annual General Meeting
5 – 6pm Interfaith Service


Time Activity
6pm Registration and supper
7.15 Welcome to Country

Julian Burnside in conversation with:

Craig Foster (‘Save Hakeem’,  #gameover) and Angela Fredericks (#Home to Bilo campaign) + local refugee activist TBC

How do we get traction in growing humanity and compassion in this country?  What have we learnt from our experiences?

8.30 Plans for the next two days


9.00 Close



Time Activity
8 – 9 am Network meetings
8 – 9 am Registration
9 – 9.15 Formal Welcome 
9.15 – 10.00 Keynote Speaker: Arif Hussein + Q&A
10.00 – 10.30 Networking activity: Speed dating:
10.30 – 11.00 MORNING TEA
11.00  – 12.30 pm BREAKOUT SESSIONS x 6
12.30 – 1.30 pm LUNCH
1.30 – 2.30pm Human Rights Panel

Arif Hussein, senior solicitor, RACS

Renaire Druery, Human rights senior campaigner, Get Up!

Father Rod Bower, Anglican priest, Gosford

2.30 – 2.45 Entertainment
2.45 – 3.00 BREAK
3.00– 4.15 BREAKOUT SESSIONS x 6
4.25 – 4.40 pm Closing remarks for the day.
4.30 – 5.00 Entertainment
5.00  – 6.30 Dinner  at local cafes, pubs. (for those who want to stay for movies)
6.30 – 8.30 Movies – in the Theatre and in Meeting Room 1 (still to be selected)



Time Activity
8.00 – 9.00 Network meetings
9.00 – 9.15 am Overview of day ahead.
9.15 – 9.45 Keynote speaker: Najeeba Wazefadost
9.45 – 10.45 am Panel: Stories of refugees who have settled in Australia well – successful social enterprises, case studies

Q: what are three things that have made a difference to you in settling in Australia? + question time

10.45– 11.15 MORNING TEA
11.15– 12.30pm BREAKOUT SESSIONS X 6
12.40 – 1.00 TAMPA Award
1.00 – 1.15 Performances
1.15 – 1.30 Closing remarks / National President
1.30 – 2.30pm LUNCH
2.30 – 3.30 Facilitated discussion:  developing an action plan / declaration from the Conference.

We anticipate that some people may leave at lunch time but there will be opportunity to work on a declaration from the Conference after lunch.

3.30 Close of the Conference



July 3 @ 6:00 pm
July 5 @ 3:30 pm