Our history

Initially launched as a joint initiative of a group of leading Australian charities and nonprofits*, Community Refugee Sponsorship Australia 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).

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2020 - Launching the Pilot Program

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, CRSI launched a pilot ‘Group Mentorship Program’ 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.

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2021 - From CRSI to CRSA

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.

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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


MayAustralian 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.

JuneThe Refugee Council of Australia undertakes study trip to Canada

August to DecemberSave 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


FebruarySave the Children Australia undertakes study trip to United Kingdom

MarchThe 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.

AprilCommunity 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.

MayCommunity Organisation Refugee Sponsorship Pilot program launched in New Zealand

SeptemberCRSI attends Concordia Summit forums on sponsorship in New York

NovemberCRSI attends Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (GRSI) Conference in London

DecemberThe 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.


MarchIreland launches a new community sponsorship program

MarchSpain welcomes refugees under its new community refugee sponsorship program

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

MayCRSI 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

NovemberCRSI 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

DecemberCRSI 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


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

MarchAustralia closes international border due to COVID-19 pandemic

JuneCRSI hosts online Refugee Week event featuring Prof Peter Shergold

AugustCRSI 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


JanuaryGroup Mentorship Program continues

JulyA 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

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