Interested in how the Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative could work in practice?
Here’s how we see this working:
A local incorporated community association is interested in sponsoring a refugee family. Members of the community association have little previous experience in providing settlement support, so they undergo training with an experienced settlement organisation. They apply to become an Approved Community Organisation and undergo vetting and approval. They contact the UNHCR, or an intermediary organisation, to identify a refugee family in need of resettlement whom they might sponsor – a mother with three school-aged children.
Volunteer members of the community association raises funds to sponsor this family. They need to raise $45,750, enough to cover the costs of the first year of Centrelink, as well as flights, medical assessments and initial needs upon arrival. The community association holds this money in trust for the first year.
The community association seeks donations of furniture and appliances for the family. A member of the association offers free accommodation in the local community area for the first year, meaning that the association does not need to cover the cost of Centrelink rent assistance. Six members of the community association also volunteer to provide various forms of settlement support for the first year, forming a volunteer group which is overseen by the association.
The local community association applies to sponsor the family, completing the required application forms. The application is assessed, and the family is approved for a refugee visa. The association helps arrange airfares and the required medical checks.
Volunteers meet the family at the airport, help them with initial needs, enrol children in school, find a family doctor, set up bank accounts and utilities, apply for Centrelink assistance (if required), help them find permanent accommodation and undertake other initial administrative/orientation tasks. They meet regularly to check how the family is settling and to offer any ongoing support they may need.
After one year, the association is billed by the Federal Government for the family’s Centrelink costs, as well as assessed on whether the family has been well supported in their first year.