IN ASYLUM: Uki resdient Heather McClelland believes refugee children need their freedom.
IN ASYLUM: Uki resdient Heather McClelland believes refugee children need their freedom. Nolan Verheij-Full

Tweed rolls out a welcome to refugees

WITH the news of 12,000 Syrian refugees expected into Australia, two refugee support groups on the Tweed have increased their efforts to settle asylum-seekers.

Penny Watssord, of the Uki Refugee Project, whose volunteer-run group hosts families from Brisbane Detention Centre for respite, asked Tweed Shire Council on Thursday for our shire to be designated a Refugee Welcome Zone.

"The zone is an initiative of the Refugee Council of Australia and is a declaration we welcome refugees; respect human rights and cultural diversity," Ms Watssord said.

Cr Barry Longland lodged the motion and it was passed unanimously.

The Uki group will hold Set The Children Free, an art installation project to raise awareness of children in asylum until Sunday at Uki's Creative Open House Weekend.

The group is welcoming about 25 asylum-seekers from Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran to Mount Warning for respite and a "bush dance" at Uki Hall on October 17. Residents are invited to attend for $5 entry and a plate of food.

"Last time one of the young girls, a teenager, went canoeing and she said it was the first time she had been in a boat since she had arrived," Ms Watssord said. "It was healing. It helped her to deal with the traumatic experience of the other boat."

The Pottsville Refugee Support Group has been established for eight months and works with the Pottsville Beach Community Centre to fundraise for a Brisbane detention centre.

"We've got three objectives," Caroline Taylor said. "To raise community awareness of issues facing asylum-seekers and refugees; to raise funds to assist refugees to meet health, education and other basic expenses, and to host friendship visits to our coastal village."

The next fundraising jumble stall will be on Sunday, November 15.

The group is listing Tweed residents who have room in their homes for visiting refugees.

Contact: 02 6676 1000.



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