Cancellation of the 2020 Welcoming Cities Symposium due to COVID-19


We have made the extremely difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Welcoming Cities Symposium.

We have been actively monitoring the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic; and, after conversations with our event partners – Scanlon Foundation, ACT Government and Department of Home Affairs – we believe this is the correct course of action.

While the Symposium remains a low risk event, the risk remains, and it is incumbent on us to lead in the best interests of public health and safety.

As recently as yesterday the Canadian Government made an urgent appeal to all nationals abroad to return home as soon as possible – which directly impacts Michael Adams, our International Keynote speaker. Michael has obviously complied with this request, commencing his return trip to Canada, and extends his best wishes and sincerest apologies.

Such actions are about preventing, and slowing, the spread of COVID-19. Cancelling the 2020 Symposium is a measure that we can take to assist with these efforts.

We realise this is incredibly disappointing for all involved in preparing for, and intending to participate in, this event. No-one is more disappointed than the Welcoming Australia Board and our amazing team.

I would particularly like to thank:

  • Event partners and sponsors: Scanlon Foundation, ACT Government and the Department of Home Affairs
  • Keynote speakers: Michael Adams, Karen Mundine, and Alison Larkins
  • Our presenters – Nipuni Wijewickrema, Dr Brian Adams, Kristin Blume, Talia Stump, Steven Abbott, Maia Tua-Davidson, Chris Faris, and Paul McCarthy
  • Member Councils who were presenting and attending
  • The Venue: National Gallery of Australia
  • The Welcoming Cities team: Sebastian Geers, Bel Schenk and Jane Jennison

Thank you to everyone who had registered for the event. A significant percentage of registrants were still willing to attend. However, more than half our attendees were travelling from outside the ACT.

Please note that all tickets will be refunded.

We had planned to announce the dates and venue for Symposium 2021 at the end of this year’s Symposium on March 19. However, we will send a separate communication about this exciting announcement later in the week. We are also considering how we can bring a virtual component to aspects of the Symposium program over the coming weeks and months – so stay tuned.

Again, thank you. I know that you will respond with generosity and understanding.

Thank you for everything you do to advance an Australia where people of all backgrounds can belong, contribute and thrive. We are all the better for your efforts.

Stay well and best regards,

Aleem Ali

CEO, Welcoming Australia