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I am a refugee seeking assistance, how can I find out more?
If you are outside Australia: Unfortunately CRSA is not currently able to respond to requests for sponsorship from refugees living overseas looking to migrate to Australia.
Refugee participants in the CRISP are identified by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as being in urgent need of resettlement, and referred to the CRISP program by the Australian government. You will need to be registered with the UNHCR in order to be referred into the CRISP program (see UNCHR contact details).
If you know someone in Australia who would like to sponsor you, you may be eligible to seek a visa through the ‘Community Support Program’ (CSP) or other visa pathways. You can find more information on the Department of Home Affairs website.
Is CRSA a charity?
I’d like to make a donation to CRSA. How do I do this?
Thank you! CRSA is a registered Australian charity with tax deductible gift recipient (DGR) status, so all gifts over $2 are tax deductible. Please head to our donations page – thank you so much for your support.
I live in Australia, how can I help welcome and support refugees?
After years of research, advocacy and imagining, Australia finally has a new community refugee sponsorship program, which commenced in mid 2022. The federal government has partnered with CRSA in the design and delivery of the Community Refugee Integration and Settlement Pilot (CRISP) program.
If you’re interested in being involved in community sponsorship or finding out more, let us know by completing our Expression of Interest form. You can also find out more by visiting the CRISP page on our website.
How do these programs work in a regional context?
CRSA’s programs operate in both regional and metropolitan contexts. However, for many regional towns where there is not an existing refugee or migrant community, it can be a challenge to encourage people to relocate once they have established connections in an urban setting.
This is the benefit of the CRISP program, as it allows regional communities to welcome refugee newcomers into their community from day one.
Each group applying to join the program will need to demonstrate through a Settlement Plan that they and their community are ready and able to welcome a refugee household. CRSA staff are available to help you with this process.
What is the Group Mentorship Program?
Initiated in June 2020, the Group Mentorship Program (GMP) connected refugees who had already arrived in Australia, but needed additional support, with a trained group of local volunteers.
Mentor groups provided support, connection and friendship to mentees building the foundations for their new life in Australia.
The GMP was developed as a proof of concept to show government and policy makers that a full Canadian-style ‘community sponsorship’ program could succeed in Australia. With the introduction of the new federal government Community Refugee Integration and Settlement Pilot (CRISP) in 2022, the GMP had achieved its initial purpose and CRSA ceased accepting new applications, with new groups instead encouraged to participate in the CRISP.
Learnings from the GMP are being incorporated into CRSA’s work as it rolls out the CRISP. CRSA is now engaged in a review and write up of the GMP model, its impact and potential future applications in the settlement landscape.
Sponsorship program FAQs
What is community sponsorship?
The concept of community sponsorship involves everyday people forming a group and working together to prepare for and welcome a refugee family to their local area. The group will typically fundraise to cover some of the initial needs of the refugee family as well as providing practical support to the newcomer family to help them settle into their community, typically for a 12 month period. The group may be an existing or newly formed group and could be independent or attached to a local club, school, faith organisation or business.
How will community sponsorship work in Australia?
The Community Refugee Integration & Settlement Pilot (CRISP) program enables community members to support the practical settlement of UNHCR-referred refugees who are not known to them.This program enables groups of everyday Australians (including those in regional communities) to welcome refugees into their local area from ‘day one’ of their Australian journey and provide them with practical resettlement and integration support, in line with other community sponsorship programs operating successfully around the world. The program, launched in the first half of 2022, will support 1,500 refugees over an initial four year period (2022 to 2025).
Find out more about the CRISP program.
The Community Support Program (CSP) can be used for people in Australia to propose and secure a visa for a refugee who is known to them (e.g. a friend or family member). Please refer to the Department of Home Affairs website for more information on this program. CRSA will be closely following the implementation of reforms to this program and considering how we might provide training and other forms of support in the future to Australian community groups wishing to engage with this program.
Can I sponsor a refugee who I know?
At present, CRSA is unable to assist people who wish to sponsor a particular refugee/family known to them. The CRISP program supports the resettlement of refugees referred to the Australian government by the UNHCR – individuals identified by the UNHCR as being in most urgent need of resettlement. CRSA is currently advocating for the introduction of a new and affordable community sponsorship program that would enable groups of everyday Australians to sponsor the resettlement of refugees who are known to them or nominated by them, building on the CRISP program.
In the meantime, the Community Support Program (CSP) can be used by people in Australia to propose and secure a visa for a refugee who is known to them already (e.g. a friend or family member) but it has some restrictive criteria and significant costs. Please refer to the Department of Home Affairs website for more information on this program.
You may also wish to consider exploring the Talent Beyond Boundaries – Skilled Refugee Labour Agreement Pilot or consult a migration agent about other visa pathways.
Are the visas granted within the CRISP additional to, or part of, the government’s overall humanitarian intake?
The 1500 humanitarian visas within the CRISP program are from within the government’s overall humanitarian intake. We are optimistic that if the evaluation of the Pilot indicates that community sponsorship provides a viable settlement pathway that leads to settlement outcomes that are at least on par with (if not better than) traditional settlement pathways, it could pave the way for an increased humanitarian intake in the future. Minister for Immigration Andrew Giles has expressed the intention of ‘additionality’ of community supported humanitarian intake in this statement.
What experience do I need to be a sponsor?
No ‘formal’ experience is required to participate in the CRISP program. Any Australian citizen or permanent resident can join or form a CSG if they would like to provide practical, meaningful support to refugee newcomers.
We do, however, require CSG members to provide:
- clear background checks and have no serious criminal record or active adverse immigration proceedings on record;
- be willing to abide by a national Code of Conduct containing minimum behavioural standards;
- be willing and able to raise funds to meet the anticipated financial commitment for a refugee household, and
- be willing and able to commit time to the activities of the sponsorship program.
Once you have established a group of five or more adults who are interested and meet the above criteria, please submit an Intention to Apply form.
Relevant experience may include any personal, professional, or community skills, experience or networks that could assist a refugee to settle and integrate into your community. These range from language ability, driving ability, IT skills or knowledge of community resources; to your lived (refugee or other), volunteer, or work experience; to your housing, education, employment, health care, faith group, sporting club or other community connections. You’ll be surprised at what you have to offer when you really think about it.
What is a 'CSG'?
Community Supporter Groups (CSGs) are made up of five or more adult volunteers, who can be based in a community anywhere in Australia, provided they can demonstrate capacity to provide appropriate support to a refugee household settling within or near to that community.
At the core of community refugee sponsorship models around the world is an understanding of CSGs as independent, self-directed, self-governed and trusted knowledge holders in their own regions.
CSGs are made up of friends, family, neighbours and colleagues – basically any group of Australians who would like to welcome and support refugee newcomers. Some groups are attached to a local organisation such as a school, club or church, while others consist of individuals who have been connected for the purpose of this program.
I’m an individual looking to get involved. How can I join a group?
We encourage you to speak with your friends, family, neighbours, and colleagues in order to form a group. We’ve found that once people hear about the program they’re often interested and want to get involved.
You can also seek out group members in your area via our dedicated Facebook page, where we have also set up state-based groups to help narrow the search. We’ve also created a short form that you can complete if you would be happy for CRSA to connect you with other individuals or groups in your area.
For more tips, read this short resource containing 5 Tips for Forming a Group, which includes template letters that you may like to edit and send to your network or other local neighbourhood pages to help you find like-minded individuals to work with.
Why do I need to form a group?
We require a group of five or more adults to ensure that the group can keep supporting the refugee household should any one member move away or become unable to continue the program. For this reason, CRSA also recommends that groups should consist of a few different households, rather than coming from one family. Having a varied membership will bring a breadth of knowledge, experience and personality types to your support. It also works to extend the benefits that come with being able to access a broader network of support.
How much notice will we receive before a family arrives?
This can vary from case to case given the complexity in facilitating travel from some parts of the world, including the need to have exit permits issued. At a minimum, community supporter groups should receive at least a few weeks notice between their match with a refugee household being confirmed, and that household arriving in Australia.
What information will we receive about the refugees we will support?
The CRISP will work with refugees who are identified overseas by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as being in most urgent need of resettlement, and who are then referred to the Australian government for resettlement.
When CSGs are notified of a potential match, they’ll receive a brief, de-identified profile including the family size and composition, genders, ages and, if this is made available by the Department of Home Affairs, the adults’ employment backgrounds.
When a match is confirmed the CSG will receive the full refugee household profile including full names, photographs, dates of birth and overseas contact details.
Can you tell me more about the training that we will need to undertake?
When and how will training take place? What will it cover?
Groups are required to attend two online workshops, delivered via Zoom. Upcoming training dates are listed on our website. Once you have submitted an Intention to Apply and it is confirmed that you will be progressing your application, you will be sent registration details. The training will include topics such as:
- Principles of mentorship/sponsorship
- Group responsibilities and roles
- Managing expectations and considering culture
- Considering power, agency, privacy and confidentiality
Is there a cost?
No. CRSA will provide the training free of charge, though we would expect your group to cover the cost of refreshments for your group and venue hire if you we deliver ‘in person’ training to your group in your local area.
What do we need to fundraise for, and how will the money be used?
Fundraising is a requirement of both programs, however the funds are used in slightly different ways in each program.
For the CRISP, the funds raised will be used to pay for ‘on arrival’ accommodation, income support while Centrelink access is arranged and to assist with setting up a household when long term housing is secured. The amount groups need will depend upon what they can source through donations and in-kind support, as well as the size of the household they will be supporting.
For example, a group may know someone who is able to provide ‘on arrival’ accommodation free of charge, or heavily discounted, thus making the amount required significantly lower than paying for a serviced apartment.
For an overview of the likely financial commitment of CSGs, please see page 21 of the CRISP Application Guidebook.
Can we access Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status for any funds we do raise?
CRSA has recently set up an account with Shout for Good. Using the ‘Shout for Good’ platform to raise funds for your group to participate in a CRSA-led program is a convenient way to collect your group’s public donations in one place and enables your Australian-based donors to make donations that are tax deductible in Australia even if your group is not incorporated or is not a registered charity.
If you are a group looking to fundraise using this tool, please read the Fundraising Guidebook to understand the process of setting up a Shout for Good page, and the fundraising requirements.
What are our housing responsibilities likely to be?
CSGs are responsible for securing short term accommodation for refugee households arriving in Australia. This accommodation is to be funded by the group and needs to be in place until a long term rental can be secured. Refugee households will be responsible for paying the cost of their long term housing, drawing on their own income (e.g. employment income or Centrelink support).
I have a spare bedroom which I would love to offer to a refugee. Is this possible?
Stable, appropriate housing is key to effective settlement. If you wish to provide accommodation, consider whether you intend to do so on an ongoing or a temporary basis.
If you are offering a room in your private home as temporary accommodation, consider whether there are suitable living spaces, separate entries/exits, bathrooms that allow for privacy, autonomy, transparency and boundaries. For more information, see this hosting good practice guidebook. If what you are offering short-term accommodation to people in emergency situations, it might be better to make this offer through asylum or migrant resource centres or another emergency housing service.
What is a reasonable distance from our group's central location to where housing is secured for the refugee participant?
There is no defined distance; rather, this depends on how far the members of the CSG are willing to travel to provide support to their matched refugee household.
If there is likely to be more than 30 minutes’ travel between the CSG members’ and the refugee participants’ residences, the group members will need to discuss how they can maintain the provision of adequate support for their matched refugee household.
What kinds of activities will we need to undertake for the duration of sponsorship?
The CRISP Settlement Guidebook contains a range of information that may assist you in providing settlement support to your matched refugee household. However, the list below constitutes the minimum requirements of CSGs within the CRISP:
- Meet the Refugee Household at the airport upon their arrival in Australia and provide transport from the airport to their temporary accommodation, including (if required) transit support from an international airport to a domestic/regional airport and transit accommodation.
- Provide safe and suitable temporary accommodation from date of arrival in Australia, until they secure appropriate long-term housing.
- Provide essential items upon arrival including at least one week’s worth of food and groceries, seasonal clothing and at least one smartphone with a sim card and adequate data.
- Provide weekly income support payments on a par with Commonwealth income support entitlements to enable the family to sustain themselves until they begin receiving income support via Services Australia.
- Assist with registration for income support payments and Medicare through Services Australia.
- Assist with opening an Australian bank account.
- Assist with securing appropriate long-term housing.
- Provide suitable and good quality furniture, appliances and other basic household goods for their long-term residence.
- Connect with a local GP and any other healthcare provider required.
- Assist with enrolment of children in school and adults in English classes, including the Adult Migrant English Program.
- Provide other forms settlement and integration support and guidance on an as-needs basis (including English language and employment support), to help the household achieve their goals, become full participants in the social and economic life of Australia and attain financial and general self-sufficiency for a period of 12 months from the household’s arrival in Australia.
Who is responsible for managing risk and insurance?
CRSA has in place a number of mechanisms to support the integrity of the GMP and CRISP and to ensure that program groups have access to resources to help them provide effective support to refugee participants. However, in planning and undertaking day-to-day activities, it is ultimately up to each individual program group member to consider the risks associated with program group activities and how best to mitigate or manage the risks associated with such activities (including the role of insurance). Refugee participants should also be informed about their own independence and agency in deciding what activities they and their dependents will participate in.
For more detail, read Risk Management and Insurance Information for CRSA program groups.
Do we need to be incorporated or partner with an organisation?
No, it is not necessary for your group to be a legal entity. If your group is incorporated or is connected to an existing incorporated community organisation, it can be easier to open a group bank account, and some groups may like to have that administrative structure. However, incorporation is not essential.
These Incorporation Toolkits were created have been written to assist groups of volunteers in NSW or Victoria involved in programs coordinated or supported by Community Refugee Sponsorship Australia (CRSA) who would like to, or are required to, form a legal entity to pursue their work.
What sort of support will my CSG have access to from CRSA during the program?
You can contact CRSA via phone or email at any stage of your sponsorship, should you need. However, we also recommend engaging with our Peer Network: a bi-monthly online forum where CSGs around Australia come together to share questions and learnings. You will receive an email with the online meeting link before each forum.
CRSA also maintains a Facebook group called ‘CRSA Community of Practice‘ where active group members can seek support, ask questions and share learnings with their counterparts around Australia.
Our online Community Hub is updated with resources and FAQs, and is a useful starting point for extra information you may need.
I’m part of an organisation wanting to support local groups. What would that involve and what do we need to do?
The first step is to fill out our Contact Us form and leave us a message.Once submitted, our team will be in touch to discuss this role in more detail.
As an overview, a supporting community organisation can expect to support groups with the following:
- Recruitment, screening and application process
- Assist in setting standards of conduct for groups
- Provision of insurance and accounting needs for groups
- Ongoing support (first point of contact, conflict resolution)
- Regular ‘check ins’ with mentors and mentees
- Evaluation support as required
If your organisation has a volunteer base you can share this program with them as a new way of engaging in this program as part of the work that your organisation does. Get in touch with us if you’d like to access materials to host an information session in your community.
What if something goes wrong?
It is important that CSGs let CRSA know about any significant incidents that occur that relate to the wellbeing of a refugee participant, as soon as possible – i.e. within 24 hours of becoming aware of a ‘critical incident’ occurring which involves a refugee participant in the CRISP.
Incidents should be reported by contacting the CRSA Telephone Hotline or via email to Romy Vitalien, CRISP Program Manager, at email@example.com. From there, we will provide advice and support about how your group should respond, or get in touch with the relevant authority.