Refugee Communities in Australia have formed a peak body to represent the interests of refugee communities in Australia. Refugee Communities Association of Australia (RCAA) aim is to empower refugee communities across Australia, enabling them to take active roles in Australia.

This independent peak refugee advocacy agency will work with all governments at all level to develop a positive relationship and provide meaningful services to refugee communities in order to facilitate successful settlement and integration. RCAA is a refugee voice for all people of refugee backgrounds and their organisations in Australia. Chairperson, Mr Juma Piri Piri said, “we are an advocacy body that is led for refugee, with refugee, by refugee, with the vision to provide a voice of refugee with the lived experience”.

The RCAA is a legal entity as not-for-profit, non-political, non-religious community organisation. RCAA provides an authentic national voice for all people of refugee backgrounds and their organisations in Australia.

Former Refugee and 2019 Queensland Local Hero of the Year and Finalist for the 2019 Australian of the Year Awards, Mr Elijah Buol OAM said that “he is very pleased to see refugee communities coming together under one umbrella because many of their issues have always been advocated by external agencies who do not understand their challenges and concerns”. Mr Buol further mentioned that “he hopes this newly formed peak body will allow refugee communities to fully participate and take full responsibilities of their needs and collaborate with government in order to facilitate better integration and positive contributions for refugee communities in modern Australia”.

One of the founding member and General Secretary of RCAA, Mr Parsu Sharma Luital said that refugee communities know their issues and RCAA will be run by “former refugees, for refugee, with refugee, by Refugee communities”. RCAA aims to work with all governments agencies at all levels by developing a positive relationship and connecting refugee communities directly with the government departments and service providers.

We, Refugee Communities believe this will create opportunities and platforms that will benefit our communities. We hope to work towards ensuring all voices of refugee are well represented by those with the lived experience on the national, regional and international stage. “The pain and suffering of refugees can only be felt by those who has experienced this journey themselves. It is those hands which are best equipped to heal the wounds” said, Ms Nasiba Akram, Women Chairperson. Through consultation within our communities we believe that there is a need for refugee communities to have an independent voice that provides voice to their issues. The core objective of forming an independent voice by the lived experience is to ensure that those with the lived experience can contribute actively towards shaping the policies that impact our communities and broad Australia.

Research has suggested that refugee led organisations have successfully contributed significantly in the process of integration of refugees. Therefore, RCAA will provide a voice on issues ranging from grassroots to national level. This practical approach will result in genuine and meaningful engagement and integration.

We have nine members on the Interim Management Committee from different State and Territories. RCAA has already a dialogue with states to establish chapter of RCAA in each state.

“Now the time has come for refugee communities themselves to decide on what is best for them to lead refugee organisations independently. I request government organisations and NGOs to work directly with refugee communities, not through the screening lenses of agencies who pick and choose refugee representation” said Mr Sharma-Luital.

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