Our history

Initially launched as a joint initiative of a group of leading Australian charities and nonprofits, Community Refugee Sponsorship Australia (CRSA) is now an independent charity organisation with a vision to play a leading role in encouraging, developing and supporting the implementation of a community-led refugee support program in Australia.

2018 - Getting Started

Driven by the desire to improve refugee resettlement in Australia, a group of leading Australian charities and nonprofits launched the Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (CRSI).

Learn about our beginnings »

2020 - Launching our own initial program

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, CRSI launched a pilot Group Mentorship Program (GMP) for refugees already in Australia that tested and demonstrated the viability of the community sponsorship approach in Australia. As part of this, we developed many of the tools and processes that will be required for a successful sponsorship program.

Learn about our pilot program launch »

2021 to 2022 - A new era begins

In 2021 ‘CRSA’ was established as an independent charity to continue working with government and community representatives to take over and continue on the work of CRSI. In 2022 we were appointed by the federal government to deliver Australia’s new groundbreaking ‘Community Refugee Integration and Settlement Pilot’ (CRISP).

Learn about the launch of the new ‘CRISP’ »

The Community Sponsorship journey so far

Late 1970s

Indochinese refugee crisis prompts Canada and Australia to adopt programs that involve ordinary citizens in helping to resettle refugees. This includes the Canadian Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program and the Australian Community Refugee Support Scheme (CRSS)


Australia moves to fully professionalise settlement services for refugees and discontinues CRSS program


Argentina launches community sponsorship program for Syrian refugees


Australia introduces pilot private sponsorship program (Community Proposal Pilot) (CPP)


UK launches community sponsorship program


May Australian government announces introduction Community Support Program (CSP) in Australia as CPP pilot ends. A cross-party group of Australian MPs sponsor a motion in favour of the introduction of a larger Canadian-style sponsorship program in federal parliament.

June The Refugee Council of Australia undertakes study trip to Canada

August to December Save the Children Australia convenes civil society forums to discuss the future of community sponsorship in Australia and leads a group of Australian charities in making joint representations to the government encouraging the establishment of a genuine community refugee sponsorship program in place of the CSP


February Save the Children Australia undertakes study trip to United Kingdom

March The Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (GRSI) makes first visit to Australia. Separately, Amnesty International Australia launches its ‘My New Neighbour’ campaign, calling for a more affordable and accessible sponsorship program.

April Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (CRSI) is launched in Australia as a joint initiative of the Refugee Council of Australia, Save the Children Australia, Amnesty International Australia, Welcoming Australia and Rural Australians for Refugees.

May Community Organisation Refugee Sponsorship Pilot program launched in New Zealand

September CRSI attends Concordia Summit forums on sponsorship in New York

November CRSI attends Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (GRSI) Conference in London

December The Australian government appoints an independent panel led by Professor Peter Shergold to review refugee settlement, employment and integration in Australia. Separately, the Australian Labor Party includes the introduction of a new community sponsorship program in its national policy platform.


March Ireland launches a new community sponsorship program

March Spain welcomes refugees under its new community refugee sponsorship program

May Germany launches ‘NesT’ mentorship program, involving community members in housing resettled refugees

May CRSI publishes a comprehensive position paper outlining a new vision for community sponsorship in Australia, hosts the GRSI in Australia and secures generous funding from the Sidney Myer Fund

November CRSI attends global community sponsorship forum in Ireland. Shergold Report’ is made public and recommends that Australia adopt an additional community sponsorship program to supplement the current humanitarian program. Australian government responds to Shergold Report by undertaking to review the CSP. CRSI hosts GRSI and Australian MPs at a Parliament House event in Canberra

December CRSI and Settlement Services International gather pledges from dozens of civil society organisations willing to support a future sponsorship program in connection with the inaugural Global Refugee Forum in Geneva


February CRSI and other collaborating organisations develop proposal for a pilot community sponsorship program and CRSI commences engagement with government’s review of the CSP

March Australia closes international border due to COVID-19 pandemic

June CRSI hosts online Refugee Week event featuring Prof Peter Shergold

August CRSI launches pilot ‘Group Mentorship Program’ with support from partner organisations, enabling trained local volunteer groups across Australia to provide holistic mentoring to refugee households in Australia during the pandemic


January Group Mentorship Program continues

July A newly incorporated and independent charity – Community Refugee Sponsorship Australia Ltd (CRSA) – is launched to take over and continue the work of CRSI into the future

August After a successful year of the pilot Group Mentorship Program, CRSA begins training the second round of volunteer mentor groups.

August The fall of Kabul and evacuation of Afghanistan sees an outpour of support from Australians around the country, showing the willingness and generosity that can be found in the community. CRSA Group Mentorship Program expands in response to increased interest from the community.

December The Federal government announces that it will partner with CRSA in the co-design of the ground-breaking new ‘Community Refugee Integration and Settlement Pilot’ (CRISP). This community sponsorship program will enable groups of everyday Australians to take primary responsibility for welcoming and settling 1,500 UNHCR-referred refugees over a four-year period, beginning in 2022.


May The CRISP is launched and it’s a watershed moment in Australia’s history of providing community-led support to refugees. CRSA begins to mobilise groups of everyday Australians in communities around the country who will ‘show up’ for refugee newcomers.

August The first refugee participants in the CRISP program land in Australia, welcomed by Community Supporter Groups.

December Applications cease for the Group Mentorship Program as its purpose – demonstrating that community sponsorship can and will work in Australia – has been achieved.