The Sacrededge Festival will once again be a welcoming host to people with a lived experience of seeking asylum. Jeanine Hourani is a refugee advocate, writer, researcher and public speaker. She is the Director of Road to Refuge, an organisation that aims to change the narrative around refugees and asylum seekers in Australia by providing refugee voices with the skills, opportunities and platforms they need to shape mainstream discourse.
“I was 20 years old when I first started talking about how I came to Australia and how I came to be an Australian. By talking about my background and sharing my experiences, I could see an immediate shift in people’s perceptions of refugees. This made me feel powerful!”
Jeanine founded the ‘In My Own Words’ program to build the capacity of young refugees to tell their stories on their terms and in their own words. She does this in a voluntary capacity while working full-time as a Public Policy Consultant. Jeanine hopes to merge her two passions for Public Policy and Refugee Advocacy.
The 3225 community is known for its active support of refugees, through the key volunteer organisation Queenscliff Rural Australians for Refugees (RAR).
In addition to highlighting refugee issues at Sacrededge, the Queenscliff Uniting Church provides valued support to RAR through a range of activities such as hosting picnics for refugee families, the Light up a Life fundraiser for an annual camp weekend for young adults, and providing funds from the sale of children’s bikes in the Vestry shop to pay for repairs of other bikes that the local Men’s Shed undertake. The repaired bikes are then made available to refugee families.
Throughout the year Uniting Queenscliff holds dinners for the local community where members of a particular nationality prepare a meal using their traditional foods and cooking styles. This popular event is repeated at Sacrededge where the main Saturday night dinner is an international one, a delicious Tamil meal.
Other Sacrededge highlights include First Nations performers Uncle Archie Roach, Leah Flanagan and Lydia Fairhall who will open their hearts through singing and story-telling.
As an all-ages event (child care available) hosted by Uniting Queenscliff and supported by the Borough of Queenscliff, Sacrededge is a unique festival in the local calendar of events.
SACRED EDGE FESTIVAL HONOURED AT AUSTRALIA DAY AWARDS
Sacrededge Festival organisers were delighted to receive the ‘Community Event of the Year’ award at the Borough’s Australia Day event.
In announcing the award, the Mayor noted the festival’s unique program of singers, presenters, storytellers and artists whose diverse backgrounds include First Nations, refugee, and LGBTIQ communities, together with those who seek to nurture mental health and care for our oceans.
The award acknowledges the festival’s development from a fledgling idea seven years ago resulting in the 2014 Sacrededge that hosted 80 patrons, to the now annual event that welcomes 400 people throughout the weekend.
“In our sometimes harsh and fearful world, we are heartened that through this festival more people each year seek to connect with others from the edge – those who are vulnerable and often not heard – to hear their stories and experiences, and perhaps have a new perspective,” said Festival Coordinator Kerrie Lingham.
“This award is an affirmation of the value to the community of the festival, and we are thrilled to receive it. We are also greatly appreciative of the support we’ve received from the Borough, local businesses and organisations, together with our fabulous team of 65 volunteers, without whom we could not offer such a complete experience for presenters and attendees.”
Perhaps the most heartfelt description of Sacrededge comes from one of the 2019 volunteers: “What a beautiful gathering of people, creating conversation around justice and diversity, and embracing culture and art.”