Review calls for refugee community sponsorship program
27 November 2019 at 5:14 pm
A new report says Australia needs a community sponsored visa program which harnesses the collective strength of whole communities
Charities have welcomed review findings calling on the federal government to introduce a community refugee sponsorship scheme in Australia.
A review of Australia’s integration and resettlement of humanitarian refugees, led by Peter Shergold AC, recommended the government introduce a new community sponsored visa pathway for refugees.
While Australia already has a private sponsorship initiative for refugees – the Community Support Program (CSP) – refugee advocates say this program fails to encourage widespread community participation in the supporting of refugees.
The Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (CRSI), a campaign advocating to let people financially sponsor the permanent migration of a refugee or refugee family in Australia, welcomed the new report.
CRSI executive director Lisa Button urged the government to look to successful shared-cost models in Canada and the UK for guidance.
“Community sponsorship of refugees is a model that has been successfully adopted in a range of countries already,” Button said.
“The benefits of community sponsorship are huge, not just for refugees but also the individuals and communities that sponsor them.”
The report said a community sponsorship scheme should be in addition to the current humanitarian program, and should harness “the collective strength of whole communities partnering with their local governments, service providers and community organisations”.
In its official response, the federal government said it partly supported the recommendation, noting it was reviewing its Community Support Program next year.
“The Australian government will continue to examine additional ways to involve local community and businesses in the successful settlement of refugees and humanitarian entrants across Australia,” the response said.
“For example, a small trial will be undertaken to bring in skilled refugees within the existing skilled visa framework.”
Button said it was very positive that the government acknowledged the desire of ordinary Australians and community groups to be more involved in helping refugees to successfully settle in Australia.
She added that many regional towns around Australia were welcoming refugees to their communities with open arms.
“Community sponsorship would provide a structured framework for this and allow more regional centres and towns to benefit from the huge economic, social and cultural benefits they bring,” she said.
“We look forward to working closely with the government and Australian communities to develop a community sponsorship program which contributes positively to the resettlement and integration of refugees and the success of Australian communities.”