Our programs - FAQ

Check out frequently asked questions about Community Refugee Sponsorship Australia’s (CRSA) programs, training and how community-led support for refugees works in Australia below. Can’t find what you’re looking for? Contact us at info@refugeesponsorship.org.au.

CRSA FAQs

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?

In early 2022 CRSA will be assisting the Federal government in the design of a new community sponsorship program for refugees known as ‘CRISP’ (Community Refugee Integration and Settlement Pilot). If you’re interested in being involved in CRISP or finding out more, let us know by completing our Expression of Interest form and we will email you as soon as more information is available. You can also find out more by visiting the CRISP page on our website.

CRSA’s Group Mentorship Program (GMP) also offers the opportunity to provide practical assistance to refugees already living in Australia.

How do these programs work in a regional context?

Both the Community Refugee Integration and Settlement Pilot and the Group Mentorship Program operate in both a regional and metropolitan context, 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 this will allow 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. 

I am a refugee seeking assistance, how can I find out more?

Unfortunately CRSA is not currently able to respond to requests for sponsorship from refugees living overseas looking to migrate to Australia.

If you are a refugee seeking sponsorship to Australia and you know someone in Australia who can sponsor you, you may be able to participate in the ‘Community Support Program’ (CSP), which the government will become more affordable from July 2022. You can find information on the CSP on the Department of Home Affairs website or contact one of the listed government contracted Approved Proposing Organisations. Refugees who are registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) may be invited to participate in the Community Refugee Integration and Settlement Pilot (CRISP) announced by the government in December 2021.

Hopefully you are also in touch with the UNHCR, who might also be able to help.

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 in to 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?

CRISP Program:

The Australian government has recently announced that it will partner with CRSA in the design of a new community sponsorship program for refugees known as ‘CRISP’ (Community Refugee Integration and Settlement Pilot). This program will enable 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 arriving between mid 2022 and 2025.

Find out more about the CRISP program.

CSP Program:

At the same time as the announcements about the CRISP program, the government also announced reforms to Australia’s current ‘Community Support Program’ (CSP) with effect from July 2022. These reforms will make this program more affordable to Australians who wish to propose a refugee known to them. That said, the financial obligations of community groups/proposers under the CSP are likely to be considerably more onerous than for CRISP.

The CRISP program will enable community members to support the practical settlement of UNHCR-referred refugees. The CSP, on the other hand, can be used for 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). 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 to Australian community groups wishing to engage with this program. Please contact us via info@refugeesponsorship.org.au if you are planning to propose someone under this program and think you would benefit from receiving training in how to provide practical support to a refugee newcomer arriving in Australia.

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 Pilot are from within the government’s overall humanitarian intake.

We are optimistic that once this model is shown to work, community sponsored refugee visas might become ‘additional’ to the traditional government-funded quota.  The Australian Labor Party has a stated aspiration of 5,000 community sponsored refugee places each year in addition to the government-funded humanitarian intake.

Minister for Immigration, Andrew Giles has mentioned ‘additionality’ of community supported humanitarian intake in this statement.

Can I propose someone I know to be sponsored?

No. The CRISP program will enable community members to support the practical settlement 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.

The Community Support Program (CSP), on the other hand, can be used for 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). Please refer to the Department of Home Affairs website for more information on this program, as well as the Talent Beyond Boundaries and humanitarian visa pathways.

What experience do I need to be a sponsor?

No ‘formal’ experience is required to participate in the CRISP program. We do, however, require CSG members to provide:
clear background checks, 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 who is interested, submit an Intention to Apply form.

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.

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 – we’ve found that when people hear about the program they’re genuinely interested and want to get involved. If you still need help finding group members, seek them out on our Facebook Page where we have also set up state-based groups (found in a pinned post) to help narrow the search.

We’ve also created a 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.

Please be warned that you may receive some unpleasant phone calls or emails from individuals who do not currently share your views about refugees so use your own discretion in deciding if or how to use resource. But part of the exercise is changing local hearts and minds!

Should you require additional support to find a group, get in touch with Nicole Watkins at nicole.watkins@refugeesponsorship.org.au. Be sure to provide your phone number, postcode, and permission for us to share your contact details in the email!

If we’re able, CRSA staff will put you in contact with others interested in the program nearby. We’ll then leave it up to you to contact one another to explore the possibility of working together as a mentor group.

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 the CSG signs the Settlement Deed, they receive the full refugee household profile including full names, photographs, dates of birth, visa grant numbers and overseas contact details.

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.

For example, a group may know someone who is able to provide ‘on arrival’ accommodation free or charge, or heavily discounted, thus making the amount required significantly lower than paying for a serviced apartment.

For the GMP, groups are required to raise a small amount to provide a ‘working budget’ for the group and for ad-hoc purchases to support the household – this could be a heater, or a laptop. The funds can also be used to pay for entry tickets to local attractions or restaurants. It is up to the group to discuss with the household on how this money could be used to further build independence.

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. 

Groups engaging in our programs will be able to use this platform to raise funds with tax deductibility through CRSA. Groups who apply to participate in either the CRISP or GMP can use this platform by following the ‘Guidelines for using the ‘Shout for Good’ platform to fundraise for your group.’

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 (eg employment income or Centrelink support).

For more strategies to secure permanent housing, we have developed a short guide, including a list of basic household goods and furniture you will need to provide.

What is a reasonable distance from our groups 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 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.

What sort of support will my CSG have access to from professionals?

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 CSGs 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.

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 – ie. 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 romy.vitalien@refugeesponsorship.org.au. From there, we will provide advice and support about how your group should respond, or get in touch with the relevant authority.

Group Mentorship Program FAQs

What is a mentor group?

A mentor group is a group of at least five individuals who live in the same geographic community and are in a community keen to provide practical support to refugees. The groups complete an internationally-developed training course and undergo basic application and screening process in preparation for providing this support. Mentor groups are made up of friends, family, neighbours, and colleagues – basically any group of Australians who feel they have the capacity to give time each week to helping a refugee newcomer.

Group members should come from more than one family or household. CRSA recommends that groups should consist of a few different households to ensure that the group can keep supporting their refugee mentee household should any one mentor move away or become unable to continue their mentoring support can continue should any unforeseen issues arise. Having a varied group of mentors will also provide your refugee mentee(s) assist with creating with the benefits that come with being able to access a broader network of support, knowledge, experience and expertise.

Your group might be attached to a local organisation such as a school, club or church (which we refer to as ‘Supporting Community Organisations’, or SCOs), or you might just be an informal group of friends or acquaintances.

Who can be part of a mentor group? What relevant skills/experience/networks does a mentor group need?

Any Australian citizen or permanent resident can join or form a mentor group if they feel they have the time and capacity to provide meaningful support to a refugee newcomer on a week-to-week basis. Before a mentor group can be matched with a refugee mentee/family each mentor group member will need to submit current police checks and Working with Children Checks to demonstrate that they are of good character.

Relevant skills, experience and networks include any personal, professional, business or community skills, experience or networks that could assist a refugee to settle and integrate into your community. These range from your English language ability, driving ability, IT skills or knowledge of community resources; to your lived (refugee or other), volunteer, work or business experience; to your housing, education, employment, health care, faith group, sporting club or other community connections. Think broadly about what a refugee might need, and what skills, experience and networks you might have to support them. You’ll be surprised at what you have to offer when you really think about it.

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 – we’ve found that when people hear about the program they’re genuinely interested and want to get involved. If you still need help finding group members, seek them out on our Facebook Page where we have also set up state-based groups (found in a pinned post) to help narrow the search.

We’ve also created a 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.

Please be warned that you may receive some unpleasant phone calls or emails from individuals who do not currently share your views about refugees so use your own discretion in deciding if or how to use resource. But part of the exercise is changing local hearts and minds!

Should you require additional support to find a group, get in touch with Nicole Watkins at nicole.watkins@refugeesponsorship.org.au. Be sure to provide your phone number, postcode, and permission for us to share your contact details in the email!

If we’re able, CRSA staff will put you in contact with others interested in the program nearby. We’ll then leave it up to you to contact one another to explore the possibility of working together as a mentor group.

What is the role of a mentor group?

Mentor Groups provide holistic and ‘whole of family’ settlement support to refugee households. Groups work with mentees to identify areas where support is needed, supplementing the support that is provided by any government-funded settlement services with the added elements of the extra time, social capital and networks, deep local knowledge and friendship that can be offered by a group of local members of the community. Mentor groups leverage their own local knowledge, networks, expertise and experience to help refugees achieve their personal goals and successfully integrate into their new community.

The following list outlines some of the things mentor groups provide support for:

  • Finding suitable employment
  • Securing suitable housing in a regional area with no migrant settlement services
  • Enrolling and better participation in education
  • Practicing English
  • Learning to drive
  • Understanding how to have overseas qualifications recognised
  • Establishing a small business
  • Accessing previously unknown local services
  • Making new friends

Who are the refugees that we would be supporting and how are we connected with them?

Mentees are refugee individuals or families who have arrived in Australia in recent years, who would benefit from additional support with their settlement. They are people who hold a refugee or humanitarian visa and can include people with temporary humanitarian visas like a Temporary Protection visa (TPV) or Safe Haven Entreprise visa (SHEV). Mentees can be already located in the same area as mentor groups, or be looking to relocate to the community where a mentor group is based.

  • Mentees participating in the 2020/21 program were mostly looking for support with learning English, career development, and their studies and making social connections
  • Households can be made up of couples, siblings, family units and single adults
  • Mentees age range varies with family members aged from 0 to from newborn – 60+

If your group undertakes training and is keen to then be matched with a refugee mentee/family, CRSA will work with a variety of front-line organisations and networks to try to find a refugee mentee/family in need of extra support who is a good match for your group. This can be easy or challenging depending on a range of factors. For instance, if you live in an area where there are very few new migrant communities, it might be challenging to find a suitable match for your group. As a rule of thumb, we look for someone who is already living within a 20 minute drive of your group or who is keen to move to your area.

We ask that you be prepared to be active participants in this matching process as you, as locals, will often have greater access to local knowledge and information than we do! In some cases, matching your group with a refugee involves trying to find a refugee who is already contemplating a move to your area and then asking you to work with them to understand whether that move is right for them and find suitable housing and employment before they make the commitment of moving to your area.

What is a refugee visa? Which refugees will and will not be involved in the GMP?

A refugee visa is a visa granted, whether in or outside Australia, on the basis that the holder has recognised refugee needs (or ‘complementary protection’ needs) and is expected to settle in Australia. It includes offshore humanitarian (subclasses 200-204), Protection (subclass 866) and TPV/SHEV (subclass 785/790) visas. TPV/SHEV visas should be valid till at least 31 July 2022 so that the mentee and the mentor group can focus on the mentee’s settlement (relocation to a new Australian community) rather than visa reapplication.

The GMP will not match mentors with people in the process of seeking asylum in Australia, as they do not yet have recognised refugee or complementary-protection type needs and therefore may not be permitted to reside in Australia in the future. Individuals in this category are also likely to face day to day challenges beyond that which mentor groups involved in this program will be equipped to provide. The program will also not involve refugees who are living overseas as of 1 October 2020 or who are in detention (including refugees transferred from Nauru/PNG), as they cannot be expected to settle in Australia within the time frame of the GMP.

If you would like to help support someone seeking asylum or in detention and you don’t know how to do this, let us know and we can suggest a few established agencies who have programs that you could join.

For refugees early in their settlement journey, what are their needs and priorities likely to be?

This will vary depending on the refugee’s background, country of origin and whether they have come with family. Key priorities include long-term housing, education opportunities (school, tertiary education and English language), employment opportunities, physical/mental health needs and community participation and networking. One of the most important aspects helping them to build on their current strengths and capabilities, ensuring their own agency to navigate all the new systems in a new country and ultimately become as independent as every other Australian. Don’t assume that you know what refugees need.  Ask them and listen when they tell you.

What additional support might a refugee/household need that could be provided by a local mentor group?

The following table is provided to give you examples of settlement goals that your mentee/s might have and how you as a mentor group could help them achieve these:

Settlement goals (examples only) Mentor activities to help achieve these
(examples only)
Improving English language proficiency Help mentee(s) enrol in Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) classes

Schedule weekly conversation practice, newspaper reading, etc with mentee(s)

Support for initial settlement in a new area Take mentee(s) on a tour of your community to show them where to find the goods and services they might need

Accompany mentee(s) to appointments with local schools, banks, GPs, language schools to help them enrol, open accounts, etc

Help mentee(s) find an affordable rental property in the area

Assistance with engaging with school or tertiary education Help kids with homework and/or engaging with online learning

Supply an additional device to enable a secondary school student to undertake their school work

Help parents and/or adult children obtain recognition of prior learning and/or research, apply for and organise funding for tertiary education

Finding employment Give mentee(s) an overview of employment opportunities in your community

Help mentee(s) prepare a resume/CV and practice for interviews

Introduce mentee(s) to local employers you might know

Working successfully in a new job/role Help mentee(s) acquire a drivers licence so that they can get to work independently

Help mentee(s) understand Australian workplace culture/practices/expectations that may be unfamiliar to them

Seeking to establish or grow a small business Help mentee(s) research and apply for government/community business support programs

Help mentee(s) understand how they might market their business in your community

Social interaction and personal wellbeing Introduce mentee(s) to individuals or organisations in your community with common interests (eg, religion, sport)
Complex family profile or physical/mental health needs In a single-parent situation, help mentee apply for relevant government benefits and organise additional child care and general parenting support

In a disability situation, help mentee apply for relevant government benefits, find housing/transportation that is accessible and/or find employment/education opportunities that provide disability accommodation and support

How long do mentor groups have to provide support for?

Mentor groups are expected to commit to provide their refugee mentee/family with a minimum of 6 months practical support, which can be increased to 12 months if mutually desired.

Do mentor groups need to raise money to participate in the GMP and for what purpose?

The purpose of the fundraising is essentially to provide your mentor group with a budget to work with as you participate in the program. Your group will hold and control that money. You may decide to use some of these funds to help run a community event that benefits your mentee/s, or perhaps to purchase something that would really make a big difference to your mentee’s ability to meet one of their goals – perhaps a laptop to enable someone to engage in tertiary education or the fees for swimming lessons.

Refugees who are eligible to participate in the GMP are eligible to receive income support from the government via Centrelink. There is no expectation that the mentor group will cover basic financial support for things like housing, food and utilities. However, basic income support is just that – basic – and you may find that a specific purchase or investment could make a big difference to your mentee(s).

How much money should we aim to raise?

Mentor groups are expected to raise a small amount of money to provide the group with a budget for your work with its mentee(s). CRSA suggests that groups raise at least $1,000 for a single mentee, plus an additional $300 per additional family member (ie for a family of four, $1,000, plus $300, plus $300, plus $300 = $1,900), with a maximum fundraising target of $3,000 for each household.

The mentor group should consider opening a separate bank account to hold these funds or put in place other mechanisms to ensure transparency and accountability within the group in relation to the collection and use of these funds. It will be up to the mentor group members to decide how to raise, hold and use these funds, taking into account your understanding of the needs of the mentee(s). The mentor group will hold this money and decide how best to spend it. If the mentor group wishes for donations that it receives to be tax deductible, your mentor group will need to raise funds through an organisation that can issue deductible gift receipts for donations received for the purposes of being involved in the group mentorship program.

 How should the money be raised?

You are welcome to use whatever fundraising methods you believe will be most successful in your community context. These may include events, appeals/campaigns, sales, grants or individual or corporate donations – methods are limited only by your creativity. Or perhaps you’ll find one local donor who will just give you a couple of thousand dollars – you may find surprising generocity once people hear about what you’re up to. We are keen to observe and learn from your experience so that we can tell future groups what works best.

Are donations to my mentor group tax-deductible?

If you are able to raise money through an organisation with ‘Deductible Gift Recipient’ (DGR) status (for example, a registered charity with DGR status), that you may be able to offer tax deductible receipts to assist your fundraising efforts. Talk to local charities about whether they are willing to assist you with this. You can look up the status of charities and other non profits on the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits website – see https://www.acnc.gov.au/

Can you tell me more about the training that we will need to undertake?

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. Usually, we are able to work with local groups to find free training venues and, in the COVID context, we ask group participants to bring their own food and beverages for the day.

When and how will training take place? What will it cover?

Dates, times and modes of delivery for training will be confirmed with your group once your participation in the program is confirmed, taking into account your group’s location, availability and any COVID-19 restrictions. The training will take a total of approximately 8 hours which can be delivered either in full day or two half-day formats, in person or on-line. Please bear in mind that CRSA is a charity with very limited resources so we won’t be able to fund travel to each and every group.  Where it its not cost effective to train groups in person, we will offer on-line training via Zoom or similar platforms.

Training will take place over the course of September – December 2021. The training package is an adaptation of a package developed by Canadian experts and others at the forefront of programs in the United Kingdom, Ireland and elsewhere, which CRSA and its partners have modified for the Australian context. It comprises four modules covering:

  • Principles of mentorship/sponsorship
  • Group responsibilities and roles
  • Managing expectations and considering culture
  • Considering power, agency, privacy and confidentiality

Once your group has been matched with a mentee household we will help you to identify other training that might be helpful on issues specific to your mentee(s)’s settlement goals and your community context. If you have specific training requests, let us know as part of the Mentor Group Application Form and we will endeavour to address these.

Tell me more about matching mentor groups with mentees

How will matching take place?

Matching groups with mentees will be based on geography, discussions between the mentee/s’s settlement goals and your group and community resources, and the characteristics of mentee and mentor group profiles. It will be an iterative and nuanced process with close cooperation between CRSA and our partner organisations in order to facilitate the most suitable matches possible. You will have a final say on whether you are willing and able to mentor the mentee/s who we propose to match you with and the mentee/s will also need to consent to the arrangement.

What if there is a disconnect between where the mentor group is located, and where the mentee is/would like to be located?

Some of the mentees will already be in long-term housing and have jobs or kids enrolled in schools. If you live in an area where the cost of housing (and living) is high, it is quite possible that there won’t be refugees living in your area or planning to move to your area. In that case, it will be up to your group to consider how far you are willing to travel to mentor your mentee/s, and we will endeavour to find a suitable match on that basis. If you live in an area where there is affordable housing and it might be viable for a refugee/household to move there on a long-term basis, we can also endeavour to facilitate that but we will need your help. The two biggest concerns that refugees typically have when considering relocation are generally, like most people, securing affordable housing and jobs – something to consider in your application if you know that there are not many refugees already living in your community.

How much information will our mentor group receive about the mentee/s before a match is finalised?

Before finalising the matching, we expect to be able to share basic information about the refugee household (ages, genders, relationships, current location and relocation plans, date of arrival in Australia, visa, country of origin/ethnic group, languages (including English), known settlement needs (may be incomplete)). You will likely not have information about why they left their country of origin. It can be traumatic for people to share this sort of information and we recommend that you allow the mentee/s to share this with you if and when they feel comfortable.

We expect to have contact with the mentee/s and in some cases, we may be able to facilitate direct communication prior to the match being confirmed. However, we recommend that you include all relevant information about refugee profile(s) your group could support in your Mentor Group Application Form to facilitate effective and efficient matching.

As noted above, you will have a final say on whether you are willing and able to mentor the mentee/s who we match you with and the mentee/s will also need to consent to the arrangement. After matching, your group will have the opportunity to work together with the mentee/s and any relevant partner organisations to finalise a mentorship support plan.

What if our mentor group is not matched with a mentee?

We will do our best to match each mentor group with a mentee, however, it may not be possible. If CRSA is unable to match your group with a mentee, we will endeavour to find other ways to involve your group in advocating or preparing for a future community refugee sponsorship program in Australia.

What sort of support do people need when they are moving to a new community (secondary migration)?

When a family moves to a new area, its important that mentor groups be able to support the needs of all family members.  Mentor groups could provide a welcoming reception on arrival, provide an initial orientation tour of the area, build knowledge of the community, employment opportunities, health services, community services, English classes, schools and secondary employment opportunities for other family members and provide holistic support. Mentorship is about building the mentee/s’s independence as well supporting them to become integral members of their new community. There are some resources on our website, under the community hub, that refer to this particular issue directly. You may like to review these as part of the application process, or just as additional information.

What sort of support will mentor groups have access to from professionals?

Refugees who came to Australia through the government’s offshore humanitarian program will likely have a professional caseworker (employed by a government-contracted service provider), who will likely have referred them into the GMP as mentee/s. The caseworker will work with the mentee and the mentor group to develop the mentorship support plan and support the mentorship. It is important that mentor groups work collaboratively with caseworkers to ensure each party involved is aware of their roles and responsibilities. Settlement service providers have clear reporting requirements on certain settlement outcomes, of which they will communicate to groups post-matching.

TPV/SHEV visa-holders will likely have less support. However, all mentees and mentor groups will have access to settlement agencies’ referral networks and those organisations’ community services. Some refugees may also have access to some more intensive and/or long-term government settlement services. CRSA’s partner organisations include leading settlement agencies who have agreed to support mentor groups with training, referrals and back-up advice and case support.

Do we need to be incorporated or partner with an organisation?

For the GMP, it is not necessary for your group to be a legal entity. However, we encourage groups to either form a legal entity or connect themselves with an existing Supporting Community Organisation (SCO) as it will make it easier for you to operate in some respects (eg opening a bank account and securing insurance coverage).  We also think its likely that any future federal community sponsorship program would require groups to have some formal legal status.

For round two we are looking to further understand the relationship between mentor groups, community organisations and CRSA. If you have a connection with a local organisation (faith, sporting, community etc.) who may be interested in supporting your group with some of the day-to-day administration and support, please share with them information on this program and ask them to reach out to CRSA for additional information.

Code of Conduct for SCO-associated and independent groups

Each group member will need to sign a code of conduct to participate in the program. This code of conduct sets a standard of behaviour across all groups and provides some guidance on what the role of the group is and appropriate behaviour. Groups who are not connected to an organisation will be provided with CRSA’s template Mentor Group Code of Conduct, which groups can adopt as their own.

Groups who are associated with a Supporting Community Organisation will most likely need to sign that organisations code of conduct for volunteers. If the organisation does not have a code of conduct, groups will need to adopt CRSA’s code.

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 Expression of Interest form. Organisations wishing to support local mentor groups can choose this as an area of interest within the form, 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.

Who is responsible for managing day-to-day activities and risks?

CRSA is coordinating the GMP program by developing a framework for the program, undertaking some basic screening of group members, providing mentor groups with some ‘soft skills’ training and helping to connect groups with mentee households. In doing these things, CRSA is not establishing  any partnership, joint venture, agency, employment, contractor or volunteer relationship with your mentor group or its members.  Mentor groups are self-regulating in terms of their membership and governance and the day-to-day decisions and activities of the mentor group will be determined by the mentor group members in consultation with the mentee(s). CRSA will not arrange or direct these activities. The mentor group will be responsible for procuring any resources or equipment that it needs in order to support its mentee(s) and for compliance with any applicable laws and regulations that may apply to those activities.

The mentor group will also be responsible for considering any risks associated with its activities and taking appropriate steps to mitigate these, whether by putting in place practical measures or by taking out relevant insurance policies (see separate question on). CRSA may be able to offer suggestions on risk management, or put your group in touch with others who can help, if this is required.

Can you tell me more about getting insurance for this work?

Please read our Risk Management and Insurance Information for Mentor Groups handout available online.

How do we overcome language barriers with our mentees?

The general philosophy of community sponsorship and our mentor program, is that local groups try to find resources to meet as many of their daily needs as possible, so we encourage you to look for local solutions to solving the language barrier.  Is there someone in your community who could act as an informal translator, or a community organisation that can provide translation services.  These days, there are many digital tools that can help when you’re having day to day interactions and get a bit stuck, like Google Translate.

However, if you really need access to formal translation or interpreting services, CRSA has an account with the federal Translating and Interpreting Services, which mentor groups can avail themselves of free of charge.  Please contact a member of our team if you need to get access to this program.

I have a spare bedroom/granny flat 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, it depends on whether you intend to do so on an ongoing or a temporary basis. In the context of settlement, we welcome those who are able to open their homes in a way that is durable (eg, welcoming a single person or a couple as housemates, renting to a refugee family at an affordable rate). If what you are really interested in doing is 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 rather than through the GMP.