9 Things We Learnt from ‘Stories About Hope’

At Road to Refuge, we were very fortunate to work with Tina & Renee Dixson to bring their project ‘Stories About Hope’ to Melbourne and Sydney. Through this project, we were able to share the stories that have long been silenced or ignored in the nationwide debate – and take a new frame to people from refugee backgrounds that recognises their inherit strength, courage and resilience.

With the help of those involved in this collaboration, we discovered some of the crucial ways to address this issue. Here are 9 ways that you can improve your messaging and ensure that it is ethical, representative and supportive.

  1. Ensure that you are always providing a platform to share lived experience. At the heart of every successful social movement have been leaders directly affected leading the way. All of us in the refugee rights movement needs to do more in lifting the stories, voices and perspectives of people from refugee backgrounds.
  2. Always ensure that your messaging focuses on the ‘person’/’people’ within your narrative. Do this through using language such as ‘people seeking asylum’, etc.
  3. Lead with a values focus and approach conversations calmly.
  4. Realise that no one is entitled to share their story just because Australians want to educate themselves. This requires a lot of emotional labour and bravery. Never force those of experience to share their trauma for the sake of your advocacy.
  5. Use your individual platform/s to create awareness against the stigma that’s upheld in the mainstream discourse about people seeking asylum and refugees.
  6. Ensure that your efforts are systemic and strategic with the bigger picture, and not focused on sole individuals, but beneficial for any and all who face discrimination at the hands of our government.
  7. People from refugee backgrounds achieve success and have positive narratives which are often hidden or taken away from them by the mainstream media. Let them shape the stories they wish to share. Ensure that the people presented are done so with dignity. Don’t force the stories to fit your own narrative or victimise people who have sought asylum.
  8. Never talk over lived experience. Create a platform for those who wish to share their story, or those who respond to your narrative with experience.
  9. Recognise the diversity in all narratives of experience. There is no one way to be a person from a refugee background or a person who has sought asylum.

We feel very privileged to have worked with such a distinguished crew and impart this knowledge through the beliefs held by people of experience. We’d like to thank you all for your participation and we are looking forward to putting this into action together.

Thank you all,

Road to Refuge Team :) x

9 Things We Learnt from ‘Stories About Hope’

2 thoughts on “9 Things We Learnt from ‘Stories About Hope’

  1. Gen says:

    These are really important lessons, particularly number 4. While many people of refugee background have ‘inspirational’ stories, they don’t need to be inspiring to deserve to live in our community. I think building friendship is the best way to dismantle biases (at least that’s been the case for me, I didn’t realise how much of a ‘victim complex’ I had until making friends with people who had been through the experience!).
    Awesome stuff

    1. Thomas Feng says:

      Thanks Gen, we completely agree. For too many of us, we don’t know people from refugee backgrounds in our personal circles and so the inspirational story/victimhood narrative become the only things we see when we hear about the issue. The reality for many people is that they just want to rebuild their lives and exist in the community. We don’t need to justify our existence or our right to live and neither should they. We would be interested to hear from you about how you made friends with people who had been through that experience. – Thomas from Road to Refuge

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