The 2018 RAR AGM agreed that reform to the government’s Community Sponsorship Program (CSP) was a priority.
Since then RAR National has been an integral part of a collaborative partnership with RCOA, Save the Children, Welcome to Australia, National Churches Refugee Task Force and Amnesty on a project called the Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (CRSI).
The attached document is a product of that work. In addition the CRSI Project has been successful in establishing its credibility with policy makers and thought leaders:
- We have published a number of public and private policy papers and briefs
- Our work has been specifically referenced in the Australian parliament and by other Australian advocates and academics.
- We have established a credible connection with government departments .
- We work closely with senior staff within UNHCR in our policy reform efforts.
- The Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (a Canadian Government/UNHCR partnership which promotes community sponsorship around the world) has supported our work..
- We have developed a wide network of organisations, policy thinkers, academics and influential individuals who support our mission, having hosted numerous large policy roundtable discussions and community conversations.
With the help of many RAR groups we have also made progress in building support for community sponsorship in communities around Australia and other partners through articles and stories in the media and social media activities, public campaigning and conversations around Australia with individuals and grass roots groups. This has culminated in the following achievements:
- 1,000 online pledges by individuals willing to provide the sorts of support that sponsorship requires when CRSI was launched in April 2018
- 30,000 signatures gathered from ordinary Australians expressing support for the idea of community sponsorship and calling for reform of the CSP through CRSI’s partnership with Amnesty’s ‘My New Neighbour’ campaign.
- 31 local governments across all seven states of Australia have passed resolutions calling on the government to overhaul Australia’s current flawed private sponsorship program,, with an accompanying letter from each council sent to the Minister for Home Affairs and countless groups within those local areas also supporting our work in a variety of ways.
- Four major sporting clubs (AFL and netball) are participating in our call to improve and expand community sponsorship in Australia, as well as smaller clubs.
- Public messages of support for our objectives from community leaders and high profile individuals such as Craig Foster, Tom Gleeson, Cal Wilson, Tom Ballard, Damian Callinan, John Howard (and the whole cast and crew of ‘The Merger’), Tara Moss, Claire Hooper, Ai Wei Wei, Julian Burnside, David Manne and Fr. Rod Bower.
- Ongoing media coverage of our calls for reforms to the CSP
- The active leadership and engagement of refugee leaders from campaigns and organisations across the country through involvement of refugee individuals and Amnesty’s Refugee Advisory Group, and some RAR groups.
CRSI has also been able to make significant inroads in influencing party policy and parliamentary motions, building on the federal parliamentary motion moved by Labor MP Tim Watts (and supported by Liberal and National MPs at the time) in May 2017:
- By successfully encouraging the ACT Legislative Assembly to pass a motion calling on the federal government to reform and expand the refugee community sponsorship program with unanimous support from all parties in March 2018.
- By building relationships and working constructively with Government Ministers and backbench MPs
- By working closely with key individuals within the Australian Labor Party prior to its December 2018 National Conference, which adopted a new policy position to allow 5,000 community sponsored refugee visa places each year in addition to the government-funded refugee program, inspired by the Canadian example
Can the community do more to help refugees resettle in Australia? ProBono Australia. 3 July 2019