About the Welcome Centre
The Asylum Seeker Welcome Centre (ASWC) is a community centre that offers a safe and welcoming space for people seeking asylum in Melbourne.
We empower and resource clients to act on their own behalf and maintain a secure and consistent environment, as this forms the basis for providing clients with a sense of safety and belonging.
Many people seeking asylum have fled conflict and persecution in their own countries, and many have been forced to leave families behind. The process of applying for protection in Australia is often difficult and complex, and as such, long-term support tends to be required throughout this process. With difficulties in accessing employment, asylum seekers may feel disempowered and marginalised from the community – this is often compounded by language and cultural barriers. It is this complex range of needs that forms the basis for the services offered by the ASWC.
The ASWC's programs vary greatly, and include computer, English and creative art classes. Every Thursday, Saturday and second Tuesday, asylum seekers can receive a hot meal from the ASWC. Often, the food is prepared by asylum seekers to allow them to share their culture's cuisine, cook with others, and contribute to their new community. The centre runs excursions for asylum seekers and their families too- last year groups went to the beach, cinema, zoo, park and aquarium among other things.
The ASWC aims to
- Welcome asylum seekers and respect their right to claim protection
- Provide information, referral and linkages to services related to each asylum seeker's situation
- Offer asylum seekers a place where they can make social contacts and engage in social, educational and recreational activities
- Empower and support asylum seekers in acting and advocating on their own behalf
- Raise public awareness of the needs and issues facing asylum seekers.
Artwork by Ajanta (Sri Lanka), painted in creative art classes at the ASWC