15 June 2015

Tim SoutphommasaneWith stories of asylum seekers trying to reach Australia’s shores routinely leading news headlines, this Friday, as part of 2015 SA Refugee Week, the Australian Refugee Association (ARA) will present its 40th anniversary oration: An Australian Sanctuary?

The oration, co-presented with The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, will be delivered by Dr Tim Soutphommasane, Race Discrimination Commissioner for the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Commissioner Soutphommasane will use the oration to reflect on recent developments in Australia's approach to immigration and multiculturalism, and the different ways in which the idea of 'sanctuary' shapes society's response to outsiders.

“It is an honour to have been asked to deliver the 40th anniversary oration for the Australian Refugee Association at a time when the rights of refugees in Australia are the subject of much public debate,” Commissioner Soutphommasane says.

“Refugee Week provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the contributions of refugees in shaping our national identity, and to consider Australia’s approach to immigration and multiculturalism.”

Cassie Magin, of the Australian Refugee Association, said Commissioner Soutphommasane will follow previous orators who have spoken on this subject for ARA, including former Prime Minister the Hon Malcom Fraser and His Excellency, the Governor of South Australia Hieu Van Le.

 “Tim was invited to be the Orator for 2015 due to his story, successes and commitment to multiculturalism and national identity,” Magin says

 “Tim has the potential for extraordinary impact on our audience and he can bring a much needed profile to the complexity of refugee journeys, and the incredible potential that this group bring to Australia.”

 “His suggestion of discussing Australia as a sanctuary, and how the offerings of Australia as a sanctuary have changed over the years, was well-received."

 “We are thrilled to be supporting this significant and much needed oration in partnership with the Australian Refugee Association,” added Jacinta Thompson, Executive Director, The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre.

Media contact (UniSA): Will Venn office (08) 8302 0096 email will.venn@unisa.edu.au                             

Angela Dorizas (for Commissioner Soutphommasane):  0430 366 529

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