Asylum Seeker Resource Centre celebrates 10th birthday

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) in West Melbourne celebrated its 10th birthday on June 8. The celebration included the announcement of the centre’s Patron and Ambassador Program — which has been developed to raise the profile of the ASRC by demonstrating high-profile supporters.

Patrons are pre-eminent supporters of the organisation and ambassadors are public figures who lend their standing to the promotion of the centre.

The new ASRC patrons are former prime minister Malcolm Fraser, former high court judge Michael Kirby, human rights lawyer Julian Burnside and feminist and activist Eva Cox.

Fraser said: “The ASRC accomplishes a great deal of important and necessary work. It attempts to help people in distress, people who have fled tyranny and oppression in their own lands. Such people should be welcomed by Australia warmly and with generosity and compassion.”

The ASRC ambassadors include psychologist Patrick McGorry, music act The Cat Empire, comedian Corinne Grant, and novelists Arnold Zable and Christos Tsiolkas.

The Cat Empire was eager to become ASRC ambassadors. The band said: “Kon [Karapanagiotidis] and the staff at the ASRC are humble heroes, holistically helping people in great need into new lives in a new community.

“They deserve the support of the broader community, and we offer ours whole-heartedly and look forward to making a difference as ambassadors for this cause.”

ASRC CEO Kon Karapanagiotidis said asylum seekers were the true inspiration for the work of the ASRC: “Asylum seekers are the true champions of human rights. They have risked it all for freedom and a humane and just world for their families and mine. Anytime I seek to find the true meaning of living with integrity, principles, passion and hope in my heart all I need to do is look to them.”

Despite the rapidly escalating issues and debates that currently surround asylum seekers, the ASRC is celebrating 10 years of helping asylum seekers. Describing the work of the centre, an asylum seeker from Eritrea said: “The ASRC is a shining dawn where desperate refugees see a light of human rights, protection, dignity and hope for the future.”

The ASRC will be celebrating at the Collingwood Town Hall on Friday June 10 with friends, supporters, donors, volunteers and asylum seekers. To coincide with these celebrations, the ASRC launched its “Winter Appeal — 10 years and beyond, we are facing our greatest need”.

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