AFAA’s Flagship 2019 Community Engagement Initiative
In November 2019, AFAA hosted Frayed Lives, Threads of Hope, a series of events that aimed to increase Australian awareness about, and action on, the global refugee crisis. This project was a part of AFAA’s community engagement and social justice agenda.
“When the lives of people seeking asylum and refuge begin to fray, our whole society frays. The Australian Fulbright Alumni Association is committed to find ways for us all to support some of the world’s most vulnerable people to find threads of hope. Together, we can weave a stronger social fabric that supports and includes everybody. Doing what’s right means up holding people’s basic rights to safety and fairness. Throughout history, people have risked everything for the hope of a better life. We must ensure people’s basic right to live free from danger.”
Dr. Iain Butterworth, former AFAA President and organiser of the events
For this project, AFAA brought Dr Mara Adelman - Fulbright alumna, communications professor, and expert in cross-cultural communication – to Australia to host three major public forums, coined ‘Salons’, in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. Based on Dr Adelman’s Salon concept curated and led in the United States, each salon facilitated discussions on Australia’s current response to the global refugee crisis and identified opportunities to improve and strengthen local action. Across Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane, the salons brought together people with lived experiences as asylum seekers, representatives from asylum seeker resource centres, performance, and Fulbright scholars and alumni.
“A salon is a gathering of minds to generate inspirational and important conversation. Salons are for the free exchange and growth of ideas. Salons began several hundred years ago in Europe but waned as communication technology changed and grew. However, salons have had a renaissance recently. I curated more than 200 when I lived in Seattle. I think it’s because people are hungry for face-to-face human contact in our digital age... My mission as a Salon curator is to bring people together 'in real life' to encourage debate, to stoke passion and to inspire action that creates supportive communities.
Dr. Mara Adelman, curator and host of the events
Refugees, Remembrance & Resilience Concert
As part of the program, AFAA joined forces with the Being Human Festival and the University of Melbourne and hosted the Refugees, Remembrance & Resilience Concert to celebrate the community resilience of asylum seekers. This was achieved by bringing together performing artists, associated charities, resources, and supporters of the global refugee crisis. This event served as a networking platform for Fulbright scholars and alumni as attendees were mad up of young people, asylum seekers, community organisations, universities, and policy makers.
Click the text to see the concert's Running Sheet.pdf
More than 200 people attended our Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney salons and were asked to identify their next steps and actions in regard to the global refugee crisis. The following actions listed are an amalgamation of their statements:
During the program, we built a dedicated Facebook Page that reaches more than 32,000 people and saw over 600 post engagements.
We invite you to like our Facebook page and we encourage you to post your next step actions!
The Frayed Lives, Threads of Hope program saw AFAA achieve the following milestones: