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’

We’re hiring

We’re hiring!

Road to Refuge is a community organisation standing for the human rights of people seeking asylum. Our mission is to re-centre the refugee narrative towards lived experience with respect and dignity. And give a platform to the untold stories of the strength, resilience and hope, of Australia’s refugee community.

We’re looking for a new Treasurer to join our Committee and a Web Designer to help us out with an upcoming brand refresh.

Applications close September 20th at midnight, so get in quick!

P.s. If these roles don’t quite fit and you’re keen to get involved, drop us a line at info@roadtorefuge.com — we’re always on the lookout for more people to join the Road to Refuge community

Road to Refuge Web Designer PD

Road to Refuge Treasurer PD

We’re hiring

Road to Refuge coffee cups return to share the untold stories of hope in Australia’s refugee community for Refugee Week

Road to Refuge is partnering with cafes across Melbourne to encourage customers to consider the perspectives, voices and lived experiences of refugees when they purchase a coffee.

From the 19th June to 25th June, customers across Melbourne will find that their local café will be sharing Layla’s story of struggle and courage on their coffee cup for the Coffee Cup Project. While Layla is fictional, her story is more common than Australians think.

This year though, the cups are back with a different message.


“You never hear the stories about the dignity and strength of people seeking asylum in the refugee debate,” says Road to Refuge Director Sam Butcher.

“Our coffee cups are kickstarters for deeper engagement with Australia’s treatment of refugees, regardless of how you vote at the ballot box,” says Coffee Cup Project Co-ordinator Alexandra Chlebowski.

“We’re encouraging everyone who grabs our cups to come to our exhibition: Stories About Hope and see the untold stories of Australia’s refugee community from the people who live them.”

Stories About Hope will be held at the No Vacancy Project Space, the Atrium, Fed Square celebrating the dignity, identities, and strength in people from refugee backgrounds. The exhibition is on from June 20th to June 25th daily from 11am – 5pm. For more information visit storiesabouthope.com.au

Road to Refuge is proud to be partnering with some of Melbourne’s best cafes, including coffee powerhouses Seven Seeds and Market Lane Coffees. Visit your local cafe listed below and grab a #CoffeeWithLayla during Refugee Week.


About Road to Refuge:

Road to Refuge is a not-for-profit community organisation building a new conversation which supports and values the lived experience and dignity of people seeking asylum. Road to Refuge runs engaging and creative community events, educational initiatives and workshops alongside their interactive web-program. 

You can follow us on social media through our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook page.

Or you can head to our website and subscribe to the mailing list.

Participating Cafes List (14/6/2017):

  • Long Street Cafe, Richmond
  • Traveller, CBD
  • Hortus, Docklands
  • Brother Baba Budan, CBD
  • Seven Seeds, Carlton
  • Ho Ho’s Canteen, The University of Melbourne
  • Milkwood, Brunswick East
  • Armstrong Street Milkbar, Middle Park
  • Social Studio / The Cutting Table Cafe, Collingwood
  • Auction Rooms & Corner Cafe, North Melbourne
  • Market Lane Prahran Market
  • Market Lane Queen Victoria Market
  • Market Lane Therry Street
  • Market Lane Carlton
  • Market Lane Collins St
  • Everyday Coffee Collingwood
  • Everyday Coffee Midtown CBD
  • All Are Welcome Bakery Northcote
  • Cafe Tre Sette, Carlton
  • The Skylark Room, Upwey
  • Mile End Bagels, Fitzroy
  • Assembly, Carlton
  • Gravity Work Space CBD
  • STREAT Melbourne Central, CBD
  • STREAT McKillop St, CBD
Road to Refuge coffee cups return to share the untold stories of hope in Australia’s refugee community for Refugee Week

Get involved with Road To Refuge!

As the horror of Trump’s Muslim Ban came into effect, we were reminded again of the dehumanising and toxic rhetoric that dominate Australia’s own refugee debate. While families were being torn apart overseas, our former Immigration Minister Scott Morrison proclaimed that Trump’s ban on refugees showed the world was ‘catching up’ to Australia’s policies — the same policies that turn away and lock up people seeking safety while silencing their perspective.

There’s never been a more important time to shine on a light on the realities of Australia’s treatment of people seeking sanctuary and right now, Road To Refuge has some fantastic opportunities for you to get involved.

Road To Refuge was founded on a simple mission: to explore and untangle the complexities of seeking asylum by promoting the voices and stories of those who with lived experience. Our aim has been to create space for our community to interrogate Australia’s treatment of people seeking safety.

In 2017 we’ll be working even harder to bring the realities of seeking asylum out from the shadows. To do this, we’ll be looking to expand our online advocacy with a Communications Manager and Social Media Coordinator, while also continuing to run unique community engagement events with an Operations Team Leader and Dinner With Layla Project Coordinator. We’re looking to have a huge planning weekend on the 25th and 26th of February, so if you want get involved get you applications in quick! Join our team and help change the refugee narrative in Australia for good.

Position Descriptions

Email info@roadtorefuge.com to express interest in any of the roles, applications close on Monday 27th of February.

Get involved with Road To Refuge!