Welcoming America Entrepreneur: Australia Is Friendly But Why Have Offshore Detention?

11/03/2016 11:57 AM AEDT | Updated July 15, 2016 12:51
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Tourists and native dancers holding letters spelling 'Aloha'

More people than ever before are fleeing their homes around the globe, and the founder of social movement Welcoming America is in Australia to help teach communities how to make new migrants feel at home.

David Lubell is working with the Scanlon Foundation to launch Welcoming Cities in Australia, starting in Melbourne on Wednesday.

Lubell, who founded Welcoming America, told The Huffington Post Australia there was never a more urgent time to show compassion for the world's less fortunate.

"I call it a 'welcoming moment'," Lubell said.

"The world is not what it used to be and we need to figure out as humans how we're going to respond to the real families and real humans -- especially those fleeing for their lives."

Lubell said Australia had an inconsistent reputation on a world stage when it came to welcoming migrants.

"In general, people see Australians as being very welcoming and friendly people," Lubell told HuffPost Australia.

"There are more people on the move in world than any other time in history and a lot of them are fleeing extreme violence and persecution. Others are seeking a better life or fleeing climate change.

"It's a nation of immigrants, so of course they'll be welcoming to immigrants, but the thing that seems a little inconsistent is offshore detention centres.

"Not everyone knows about it honestly but those who do, find it hard to understand."

Welcoming Cities will develop resources to help communities come to terms with newcomers, whether they be migrants or otherwise as well as growing a national network of practitioners and local governments committed to fostering social cohesion.

Lubell, however, said the most important factor was the individuals that made up a community.

"If you want to change attitudes, that happens at a local level because that's where migration affects real people and that's where change can occur," Lubell said.

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