WHAT IS MY NEW NEIGHBOUR CALLING FOR?

We’re calling on the Australian Government to make available a community refugee sponsorship program that is affordable and accessible, and to ensure that sponsorship works to expand how many people Australia can help each year.

WHAT IS ‘COMMUNITY REFUGEE SPONSORSHIP’?

Community refugee sponsorship is a practice that enables individuals in a local area to come together to form a sponsor group, which commits to providing financial, emotional and settlement support to refugee newcomers over a 12 month period. The sponsor group becomes deeply and directly involved in supporting refugees to apply their skills, realise their goals and ultimately contribute back to their new communities.

DOESN’T AUSTRALIA ALREADY HAVE A SPONSORSHIP SCHEME?

Australia currently has had a small private sponsorship scheme since 2017, the ‘Community Support Program’ or ‘CSP’. This enables private sponsorship of 1,000 refugees per year under the government’s humanitarian program. However, the program can cost over $100,000 for a family of five, does not involve the broader community and has exclusionary criteria.

HOW DO REFUGEES CURRENTLY RESETTLE IN AUSTRALIA?

Australia has had a longstanding refugee resettlement program, which currently takes approximately 16,000 refugees a year from overseas (within a total quota of 18,750 humanitarian migrants per annum). Some of these people are referred by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, while others are proposed by Australian residents (usually family members). However, current policies do not facilitate the involvement of the wider Australian community in sponsoring refugees from overseas.

THE ISSUE IN DEPTH

What does Australia’s government need to do?

There are significant flaws in the Australian Government’s current community sponsorship program for refugees.

Right now:

Every time a community group successfully sponsors a refugee through the community sponsorship program, our government provides one less government-funded resettlement place.

The high costs for sponsors and refugees mean that not everyone who wants to take part can do so. In comparison to Canada, Australia’s program is three times as expensive because it includes expensive visa application fees and charges for the work of intermediary organisations.

How will we achieve change?

We’re gathering mass support from Australians for a fairer refugee sponsorship program. Every voice counts please sign the online petition to the Australian Immigration Minister, calling for a fairer community sponsorship program.

Dedicated Amnesty supporters around the country are working to influence local councils in support of fairer refugee sponsorship. In turn, supporting local councils can work to influence State and Federal MPs.

None of this happens alone. Our many Amnesty supporters are working to make fairer refugee sponsorship possible alongside many like-minded organisations, including as part of the Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (CRSI).