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, and Amnesty on a project called the Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (CRSI).
In May 2019, the Sidney Myer Fund gave three year anchor funding to CRSI to support its mission of establishing a Canadian-style community refugee sponsorship scheme in Australia.
Where is CRSI now?
- The preferred model has been prepared and published.
- A Steering Committee has been formed and Ambassadors appointed.
- We have built connections with Government departments and politicians to promote the model of community refugee sponsorship.
- The ALP committed 5,000 places for community sponsorship, in addition to the Humanitarian Program, in the lead up to the 2019 election.
- 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.
- In November 2019, the Morrison Government released its response to an independent report into refugee resettlement led by Peter Shergold . The Shergold Report recommended that the government introduce a new community sponsorship program to supplement the current humanitarian migration program. In response, the government undertook to review its current flawed private refugee sponsorship program in 2020. It is clear that the government is aware of the Canadian sponsorship program and keen to learn from it. RAR was involved in consultations in this review.
- The Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (a Canadian Government/UNHCR partnership which promotes community sponsorship around the world) has supported our work. Several RAR groups have been involved in workshops hosted by GRSI.
- 107 organizations have signed the Civil Society Pledge to support refugee sponsorship.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to all humanitarian settlement. To keep the momentum going, CSRI initiated the Local Group Mentoring Program. This is a pilot program to help refine plans for the introduction of a full community sponsorship program. A call was made for 10 – 12 groups of local people, who were prepared to act as a support group to refugees who have arrived in the past 12 – 18 months. 20 groups responded and there is now a matching process happening, where possible. Several RAR groups have nominated to join this program.
We continue to build a movement in Australia in support of an affordable, sound community sponsorship program, to help address in some small way the huge unmet demand for resettlement of refugees around the globe.
In October 2020 Amnesty released a paper on the My New Neighbour Campaign, which runs alongside CRSI and complements its call for community sponsorship in Australia.