In the wake of refugee welcome signs in Bega and Eden being damaged or stolen - as well as recent political events on a federal level - the Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast wanted to address the way those seeking entry to Australia could be perceived.
"We've got to get back to humanising the refugee and asylum seeker 'issue'," chair of SJA Sapphire Coast Mick Brosnan said.
"These are real people who come and contribute so much to our country.
"We have this absolute obsession with people by coming boats, which I find ironic as the first white people arrived by boats and invaded Australia.
"As Australians we're all migrants, except for the Indigenous people who we tend to neglect."
He said under Australia's obligations for the Refugee Convention, keeping refugees on Manus and Nauru in long-term incarceration could be defined as illegal.
Most had already been vetted as "bona fide refugees", he said.
"We really want to say people should be recognised as human beings and legally brought to the country as they should have been," he said.
Mr Brosnan said the refugee welcome signs installed in the Bega Valley last year - two have been replaced or stolen - were to recognise how the shire became the first council in Australia to become a Rural Australians for Refugees-initiated Welcome Town back in 2002.
He said the continued damage to these signs in some way represented fear and misunderstanding.
"I really would like to understand why, what it is that drives that person to be so aggressive against these people," he said.
"I think you've got to determine why first, then try to help an understanding."
The SJA is bringing three groups of refugees to the Bega Valley this year, will hold a multicultural festival in August and has monthly migrant support meetings in Bega.
Mr Brosnan wanted to make it clear there was still a lot of support for refugees in the Bega Valley.
"Whenever we bring refugees to the shire the overwhelming response has been fabulous," he said.
"Local people in their droves joined us and took part in exciting and vibrant ways.
"The vast majority of people are so supportive."