The University of Southern Queensland (USQ) welcomed more than 100 attendees to its Refugee Welcome Event and Community Expo during the week of 18 June. The event included an official welcome, a traditional smoking ceremony, stalls, and campus tours.

The university has 180 students on humanitarian visas studying at the institution and more than 4,500 international students from 86 countries.

The community event was organised by USQ, Toowoomba International Multicultural Society (TIMS), and Multicultural Development Association (MDA) as a part of the annual Refugee Week. The event aims to raise awareness about issues affecting refugees while celebrating refugees’ positive contributions to Australian society.

USQ student and Welcome Event attendee Nesrin Khoury was born in Syria, but now she calls Toowoomba home after spending the last seven months living in the region. Khoury will begin her studies in ‘English for Academic Purposes’ at the university next semester.

“I love the diversity of Toowoomba and how everyone is so welcoming,” said Khoury.

“I am looking forward to studying the English language program through USQ’s Open Access College. Then I hope to go on and study a Master of Professional Accounting.”

USQ Deputy Vice Chancellor of Students and Communities Carl Rallings welcomed the students and visitors. He explained that the university is proud of its culturally diverse range of students and that Refugee Week is an important opportunity for us to reflect.

“USQ is very proud to have 180 humanitarian visa holders studying with us this year. We welcome the new members to the community, as well as the students, to our USQ family,” said Rallings.

“Refugee Week is an opportunity to reflect and think about our national values in relation to people seeking protection and how we can work together to help Australia be a better and fairer place in the future.”

Other guest speakers at the event included Toowoomba Regional Council Deputy Mayor Cr Carol Taylor, Multicultural Affairs Queensland Director Julie McDougall, TIMS President Gitie House, and MDA Manager Kelly Buckingham.

For more information, you can visit the institution’s Multiculturalism page here.

See socials from USQ’s 50/25 Anniversary Gala Dinner here.