Australia

Australians can now sponsor refugees in need of resettlement under new pilot program

Refugees in urgent need of resettlement will be supported by local community groups under a new pilot program aiming to guide and support new arrivals.
The Community Refugee Integration and Settlement Pilot will fund to assist refugees to access accommodation, local orientation, education and government services.

Community Refugee Sponsorship Australia (CRSA) trains and deploys community groups under the program, to help refugees needing urgent resettlement as identified by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) .

CRSA CEO Lisa Button lobbied alongside several non-government organisations and charities for more than four years to establish the program, approved by the Morrison government late last year.
“It is wonderful to see it come to fruition and to see Australians from all walks of life signing up to be trained in the process,” Ms Button said.
The model is based on a successful Canadian policy launched in 1978.
“Under that program, everyday Canadians have sponsored more than 325,000 refugees into the community, in addition to the government assistance refugee programme,” Ms Button said.
Immigration Minister Andrew Giles said refugees supported by the program were currently counted under Australia’s existing humanitarian intake for now.

“This is about everyday Australians looking at what is happening around the world and wanting to lend a hand,” Mr Giles said ahead of a visit to a community group in Gosford on Friday.

At this stage, 1,500 new refugees will be supported through the program while it runs from now until 2025. The refugees will be referred by the UNHCR to the Australian government for resettlement.
Former Congolese refugee and CRSA Community Engagement Manager Blaise Itabelo understands local support first-hand.
“When I came to Australia, I was lucky enough to stumble into a friendship with an Australian man and his family, who helped me build a new life, and feel likeI belong,” Mr Itabelo said.
“He rented a truck to help me collect second-hand furniture for my first flat…and gave me his old laptop, which I used to apply for my first job.”
The Albanese government has committed to expanding Australia’s refugee intake by becoming additional to existing refugee numbers in future sponsorships programs.

There are more than 27 million refugees worldwide, with more than two million predicted to need resettlement this year, according to the UNHCR.

Labor plans to progressively increase Australia’s humanitarian refugee intake to27,000 places annually, after the Morrison government cut the cap by more than a quarter to 13,750 last year, and issued less than 6,000 visas in the 2020-21 period.
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre principal solicitor Hannah Dickinson said an increase to Australia’s humanitarian intake was long overdue.
“Any community sponsorship of refugees certainly needs to be in addition to the humanitarian intake rather than contributing towards the cap,” Ms Dickinson said.
“We really support the initiatives and indeed any programs that increase community engagement with refugees and people seeking asylum.”
Application details for the pilot program can be .
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