A refugee support group has reacted with surprise at the proposal to remove signs that were installed to show the Far South Coast's acceptance of refugees.
At the next meeting for Bega Valley Shire Council, Deputy Mayor Mitchell Nadin will introduce a notice of motion to remove the shire's welcome to refugees and asylum seekers signs.
His listed his reasons as due to the risk the media's reporting on vandalism to the signs would have on the Bega Valley's reputation and how the issue of refugees had caused division in the shire's community.
When Bega Valley Rural Australians for Refugees committee member Hallie Fernandez-Markov heard the comments, she said she was "in shock".
"It's blaming the victim, rather than dealing with the issue and the cause," she said.
"If it's a just cause and council has said it can be a welcome zone, why would you remove the signs instead of embark on a campaign to educate the local community?
"We're not going to have refugees allocated to Bega because it is too far and remote and they need support they will receive in areas where communities have already started, but we can always educate and offer respite for them to come to this area and enjoy the beauty of regional Australia."
She did not believe the media's reporting of the signs being vandalised would damage Bega Valley's reputation.
"I think it's a select few people who are only doing it, like the selection few people who put a Swastika on [Member for Eden-Monaro] Mike Kelly's office," Ms Fernandez-Markov said.
Instead of removing the signs she said council should be installing CCTV in the areas and stating vandalism was unacceptable, because if someone felt they escaped punishment from vandalising one sign they could have the confidence to go and vandalise another.
Another way council could change discriminatory behaviour was education, she said, such as putting books about refugees into libraries or inviting speakers to the local area to talk about refugees.
"Education is the base for eliminating racist beliefs, because racist beliefs are built on the fear of the unknown, the fear of people they've never met, and politics is really good at putting that fear into people," she said.
Ms Fernandez-Markov was surprised Cr Nadin wanted to take the signs down, even though in the notice of motion he stated he wanted to reaffirm council's status as a refugee welcome zone.
READ MORE: Vandals damage refugee welcome sign in Bega
She said it was obvious Cr Nadin had "never felt discriminated against".
Council's next meeting will be on March 13 from 2pm at the Bega Valley Commemorative Civic Centre.