Refugee Week runs from June 18-24 2017 and takes a line from our National Anthem as its theme: “With courage let us all combine”.

Australian history is rich with refugee stories. Our shores have long been a destination for those fleeing war and persecution: from Prussia, 179 years ago; from post-World War II Europe; and from early 1980s Vietnam. Throughout it all, we’ve seen policies that encourage and restrict immigration.

Our Library collections capture and reflect this history in interesting ways. Ross Bird’s photos document East Timorese refugees at Puckapunyal SafeHaven. Australiana files contain ephemera of politics and protest. Statistical reports chart our population development from “98% British” under the White Australia Policy to the diversity of over 200 birthplaces.

Richard Mosse’s artist book challenges perspectives through infrared imagery. A memoir by Deng Thiak Adut shares a personal narrative. In They Cannot Take the Sky we find stories of brutality but also kindness and gratitude. Christos Tsiolkas writes in the introduction that it is an eBook “we read because we must, for… understanding of our world and our own place in the world.”

Current global events are causing unprecedented levels of displacement. The UN Refugee Agency UNHCR reports 65.3 million people forced from their homes; 21.3 million are refugees. In 2015-2016, 17,555 refugee and humanitarian visas were granted by the Australian Government. Australia for UNHCR is currently responding to emergencies in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, South Sudan and Central African Republic.

With this in mind we reflect that State Library Victoria was founded in 1854 as “the people’s university”. We are accessible to all Victorians, new and old. We provide information and resources for and about refugees.

With courage (and knowledge) let us all combine.

Elderly East Timorese woman disembarking from a bus on arrival at the Puckapunyal Safe Haven

Arriving at the Puckapunyal Safe Haven. Photo by Ross Bird. Photo by Ross Bird, 1999.

To highlight Refugee Week we have a book display drawn from our Redmond Barry open access collection. These books represent a diversity of homelands and situations; browse them in the Information Centre or go online where eBooks and databases are always available.

A bookshelf containing books for Refugee Week.

Our book display for Refugee Week.

Further links:

While you’re here …

More people are using this Library than ever before. Every year, around two million people come through our doors to think, learn, debate, create, discover and dream. Millions more visit us online.

Over the next three years, we will create 40% more space across the Library for you, our readers, friends and visitors. We will create three new reading rooms, re-open the historic Russell Street entrance, build a world-class exhibition gallery, open a dedicated Children’s Quarter and strengthen connections with regional Victoria.

We've always been free and we'll stay that way, but right now we need your support to build a better Library for you and future generations.


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