Refugee Week Toolkit

What is Refugee Week?

Refugee Week is Australia’s peak annual activity to inform the public about refugees and celebrate the contributions made by refugees to Australian society. It’s a week of national celebrations led by the Refugee Council of Australia, starting with World Refugee Day on Sunday, 20 June and running through to Saturday, 26 June 2021. 

The theme for this year is, UNITY – The way forward. The common theme is a reminder that, regardless of our differences, we all share a common humanity. It aims to showcase the spirit of welcome and support that characterises Australian communities and to highlight the importance of working together to guarantee better opportunities for refugees in Australia.

During this week of action, Amnesty International Australia will be celebrating the contributions of refugees to our communities through our My New Neighbour campaign. While standing together in unity to demand an end to the inhumane treatment of refugees through our Game Over campaign. 

We, as a movement will be asking Australia to ‘step up and do more for refugees’ through the events that we organise throughout the week.

Let’s get to work

We know that 2020 presented us with challenges  to our activism. We still managed to organise many fantastic events for Refugee Week last year. This year we have developed a wider variety of options for you to challenge injustice and defend human rights during Refugee Week.

This is a big moment for our movement. You can be a part of it by organising your own event, in person or online. Involve your community in celebrating the spirit of unity. Highlight aspects of refugee experiences and help the broader community understand what it is like to be a refugee. Ask Australia to step up and do more to guarantee better opportunities for refugees.

If you can host events within your community. Please follow these Covid Safe Guidelines and comply with your state’s rules and recommendations.  

Or, you can join one of Amnesty’s Flagship events for Refugee Week to celebrate the contributions of refugees to Australian communities and make our voices heard to end the suffering and get people to safety, by asking Australia to step up and do more.

Join us for our National Flagship Events 

Now more than ever, we need to show solidarity with refugees. That’s why Amnesty as a national movement is coming together during Refugee Week for three exciting mass mobilisation moments. You will be able to participate in these events either by attending in person if you live near the location or by joining us through the livestream event.

Starting Wednesday June 23rd at 6.30 pm AEST, we will kick off the week of celebrations with BAND TOGETHER, an evening of conversation and music at the Sydney Town Hall. The event will highlight the work of refugee artist Farhad Bandesh and it will include a conversation with Craig Foster and music support by Midnight Oil. Tickets are now on sale at this link.

Event Idea: Your group could get together and host a watch party, add some food and your own music performance. You could also sell tickets to your watch party and raise money.  To host your own watch party, buy an online ticket for 15 dollars. Your ticket will give you exclusive access to the event link. You can use this link to screen it at your local pub, home theatre or a venue of your choice. A recording of the event will also be available if you would like to host the event on another day.

Friday June 25th at 7.00 pm AEST, ‘Making Australia Home: A conversation with refugees about community and change’. The National Amnesty Refugee Network will be hosting an online webinar in collaboration with the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law. Together, creative producer Grace Edward and performance artist Manal Younus will lead a conversation with other refugees about the experience of settling into the Australian community.

Hear from Hani Abdile, a spoken-word poet and writer living on temporary protection. Mostafa Azimitabar, a Kurdish refugee who fled Iran and was held on Christmas Island, Manus Island, Port Moresby and two inner city Melbourne hotels for 2737 days. And, Zaki Haidari, a 2020 Australian Human Rights Commission Human Rights Hero and an Ambassador for the Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS). Register for the event here.

 Event Idea: You and your group could use some of the art material, photography and stories from Temporary to host your own individual event.

Saturday June 26th, will be our big “Day of Action”. All across the country, Amnesty and other partnering organisations will host vigils. To show solidarity with refugees and people seeking asylum still affected by Australia’s inhumane refugee policy. These will be popping up all across the country. Amnesty groups will be leading in person vigils in *Melbourne, Sydney, Perth (on 25 June) and Brisbane but all across the country you can join us by hosting your own vigil.

*The Melbourne vigil has been postponed due to Covid-19 restrictions in the state.

Please keep an eye out for these nights and how to join via the Activism Planner. Are you part of our National Facebook Group for activists? Join the group here to be kept in the loop. 

Check out this interactive map to find events close to you

How to be an active ally for Refugees during Refugee Week

Listen Up: Whether that is reading stories from people stuck in offshore detention or listening to refugees in your community affected by unfair policies, the best way to start on this journey is to listen. During Refugee Week, join the storytelling event “Making Australia Home: A conversation with refugees about community and change” to meet people who survive despite a system designed to keep them out.

Help Out: Support organisations, churches and local groups in your area that are designated sanctuaries by providing food, household items and clothing. ASRC operates a FoodBank that supports over 1000 people seeking asylum with groceries. Find the closest collection centre here.

Support Refugee Businesses: Many refugees are trying to find their way here in Australia and supporting them in this journey is as simple as eating some delicious food. Go to Welcome Merchant to find refugee and asylum seeker entrepreneurs near you and support them.

Amplify Refugee Voices: Use the power of your own social media to share the stories of refugees and shift the discourse from one of hate to one of love. Here is a story you can read and share with friends and family on social media.

Speak Up: Support the fight for justice and a fair go for refugees by taking action in person or online. Join Amnesty’s events happening across the country and call on our government to end the inhumane treatment of refugees.

Host your own event for Refugee Week

On top of joining an event as part of Refugee Week, you can also host your own event, online or offline. 

Refugee Week is all about celebrating refugee contributions. This year’s theme reflects the spirit of unity that binds our communities and societies together. We will also be using this moment to ask Australia to step up and do more for refugees.

Event Idea: Highlight refugee stories that help the broader community understand what it is like to be a refugee by organising a film screening and discussion of The Merger /Rosemary’s Way /Scattered People. The Refugee Week website also has a list of films for you to choose from.

Event Idea: Host a book club event. Choose a book about refugees or written by refugees and invite people in your community to a book discussion. If the author of the book is local invite them along to the event as well. Have a look at these book recommendations on the Refugee Week website.

If you are planning to organise your own Refugee Week event, have a look at the Refugee Week resource kit here.

Amnesty resources

  • We can send you Amnesty merchandise such as petitions, t shirts, pens and badges 
  • We can provide you with access to our professional QR code account for you to set up your own trackable QR codes linked to the petitions you’re using.
  • If you need help setting up a zoom meeting/would like access to our professional account, just ask us.

Please add these into the host an event form so the Supporter Care Team can fulfill your resourcing requests. 

This event template could be useful for you and your group when planning your event. You can follow the same steps as for an online event. However keep in mind that you will be running the event in person so you will need to think of other items such as venues. Follow this guide to make sure your event is COVID safe.

Make sure you submit a host an event form, so  we can provide extra support for you. 

Here’s some tips and tricks for hosting an engaging online event:


  1. Get to know the theme of Refugee Week and think about how you could connect your event to one of our Refugee Rights Campaigns (GameOver and MyNewNeighbour).
  2. Keep an eye out for the schedule for the National Flagship events, via the activism planner if you or your group want to attend any of these, you may want to plan your event on another day.
  3. Do you have support from your group or network to help you run this event? 
  4. Do you need any extra support or training to help you with the tools you will be using on the nights, such as zoom?

Considerations for your event 

  • Are you involving people from affected communities in organising this event? If so, it might be worth brushing up on the How to be a genuine ally training module.
  • Can you partner with other groups to host this event? 
  • What will draw people to your event? Will it be an interesting speaker, an exciting musician or poet? 
  • Who is your likely audience?
  • What format is best suited for the message you are trying to get across

Fundraising at your event

  • Fundraising at your event could increase your outcomes and impact
  • There are multiple ways to fundraise e.g- charging a ticket price for your event or asking folks to donate at your market stall/ event
  • We have this new Fundraising Letter and Flyer from our current tax appeal which you can trial using at your event
  • The letter and flyer explains what the tax appeal is, why you should donate to Amnesty in support of this appeal and provides a QR code/ link for people to directly donate to Amnesty- no need for you to worry about processing any money
  • We can track how many people use this QR code, so you can include this in your event outcomes and evaluation
  • As we are trialling this resource to see if activists find this useful- please let the organising team at know that you’re using this resource and any support you might need to do so

Make a plan

  • Check out our Events & Tactics Training Guides – Part 1 on Planning and Part 2 on Coordination.
  • Register your event through Amnesty’s online Host an event form.
  • Book and secure your entertainment, whether this is speakers, musicians, or any other amazing ideas you might come up with. 
  • Schedule a time for people to sign a petition during or before/after the event. Or, think about another call to action idea.

For promotion – get your message out!

  • Our incredible Activist Communications Team is here to support the promotion of your event. Fill out this brief and let them know the support you need including social media, local media, promotional resources and more.
  • Brush up on your media skills with this training module or stay tuned for an online skills webinar (TBA)
  • A letter to the editor of your local newspaper is a way for the paper to hear from its readers about issues in the community or the wider world. The key, as with the media release, is that you have to really compete for the editor’s attention, so you need to make the letter compelling. Here are some tips on how to write a compelling letter to the editor.
  • Listings are an extremely easy way to drum up interest in your event. There are a wide range of listing websites which give you free listings. You simply need a blurb about your event, all the details of how someone can be involved, and an image to go with it.

Let us know how you went!

  • Share your pictures and success via the National Facebook group for activists and #activist_updates on Slack. 
  • Let your local ALC know how you went, and fill in the feedback form, so we can continue to support your events to the best of our ability.

Useful resources

  • Skill up via our online training modules!
  • Keep track of upcoming opportunities via your Activism Planner.
  • How to make your Virtual Event inclusive.  
  • Campaigning for human rights can be difficult. Burnout and vicarious trauma can happen and it’s important to keep a look out for the signs in yourself and your friends. You can check out our Sustainable Activism & Self Care guide and workshop which you can find here. It examines how we can better take care of ourselves as activists and what you can do to make sure your activism is sustainable!

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