Refugees & asylum seekers

Refugees & asylum seekers

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Refugees and asylum seekers are welcome in our city

Welcoming asylum seekers and refugees

Our city is a culturally diverse area that has become home to refugees and asylum seekers from around the world. 

The United Nations describes refugees as people who are outside their country of nationality and have a well-founded fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a social group or political opinion.

An asylum seeker is a person who has sought protection as a refugee, but whose claim for refugee status has not yet been assessed. Asylum seekers in Australia have no guaranteed right to income, health care or settlement services while they wait for their claim to be determined.

We have been an official refugee welcome zone since 2005, when Council declared its commitment to welcoming refugees and asylum seekers into our community. This was also a commitment to upholding human rights, demonstrating compassion and enhancing cultural and religious diversity in our community.

Main photo: James Alcock/Refugee Council of Australia.

Refugee and asylum seeker access project

Refugees and asylum seekers have free or low cost access to many City facilities and services, including our libraries and community centres.

City of Sydney residents can apply for an access card that provides a reduced rate to the City's aquatic and fitness centres and our tennis courts.

The aquatic and fitness access card provides $2 entry to our swimming pools and $5.50 for the fitness centres at Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre, Victoria Park Pool, and Cook + Phillip Park Pool.

The tennis access card provides court hire for $7.50 per hour at our tennis courts.

For more information, contact your nearest Neighbourhood Service Centre.


Social policy and programs team02 9265 9489

Grants and sponsorships

Through our grants and sponsorships program, the City supports community activities and services which enhance the social wellbeing of our residents and promote community connectedness. 

Here are some examples of projects funded recently, which benefit refugees and asylum seekers, and raise community awareness.

Breaking bread and barriers lunch program

Asylum Seekers Centre clients and local community groups from culturally diverse backgrounds prepare and cook hot meals as part of the centre's daily lunch service. It is an opportunity for volunteers to interact with individuals and families seeking asylum and it enables clients to give back to the community.

Refugee Week festival of welcome

The Refugee Council of Australia is the peak national organisation for refugees and individuals and organisations that support them. The council holds a festival of welcome for Refugee Week each year. The City supports the launch event which showcases community support for people from refugee backgrounds involving speeches and music performances.

Welcome to Sydney pilot project

Settlement Services International will be piloting a new project in 2017, which pairs newly arrived people with volunteers to experience life in the inner city. It will include free and low cost activities such as attending major events, visiting libraries, parks and museums, and learning about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander living cultures.

Community projects

Some other organisations we have supported to help refugees and asylum seekers settle into our area are listed here.

Asylum Seekers Centre community speakers program

The community speakers program has been developed to build greater community awareness, understanding and to inspire the community about how to become involved and provide support to people seeking asylum. 

Justice Connect's migrant outreach service

Migrant outreach services include advice, information and community education as well as free legal assistance and advocacy to refugees, asylum seekers and recently arrived migrants.

Mazi Mas Sydney

A pop-up restaurant project that hosts dining events around our area, providing employment opportunities for migrant and refugee women as well as women seeking asylum who have work rights on their bridging visa.


The NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors held its Face to Face project that explored the lives, hopes and dreams of refugee teenage girls.

Last updated: Monday, 26 June 2017