For the past three years Researchers for Asylum Seekers and the Melbourne Social Equity Institute have partnered to present an annual lecture series for asylum seekers.
The series began in 2014 with the recognition that many refugees and asylum seekers in the community didn't have the right to work or study, and were experiencing significant social isolation.
The primary goal of the lecture series is to welcome and introduce refugees and asylum seekers living in our community to the campus, staff and students of the University of Melbourne. The lectures provide an introduction to issues of relevance in modern and historical Australian society and provide an opportunity for meaningful and stimulating intellectual and social engagement for the target audience.
In 2016 the series placed a particular emphasis on giving recent arrivals a better understanding of Australian history and contemporary society. The series ran over six weeks:
- Lecture 1: Indigenous histories
- Lecture 2: Immigration to Australia
- Lecture 3: Contemporary Australia
- Lecture 4: Languages
- Lecture 5: Australian systems: education and politics
- Lecture 6: Human rights and equal opportunities
People from 15 different countries attended the 2016 series. Countries of origin included Pakistan, Eritrea, Syria, Malaysia, Bosnia, Papua New Guinea and Afghanistan.
“Before the lectures I heard that the University of Melbourne was very closed, no one can get in there. Afterwards I felt that everyone is friendly, so that was different than before. The University of Melbourne want to assist asylum seekers – good steps from Melbourne.”
(attendee at the 2015 lecture series)