Community sponsorship of refugees is a growing global movement
Community sponsorship ensures that refugees are met with a warm welcome and have the support they need to find their feet in a new country. Australia joined this growing global movement with the launch of the federal ‘CRISP’ program in 2022.
What is community sponsorship of refugees?
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.
The scale of the global refugee challenge continues to grow:
- resettlement opportunities are grossly inadequate to meet the number of refugees in urgent need around the world
- rich countries are not doing enough but governments are politically constrained in how much they can do at the expense of taxpayers
- private citizens feel compassion and want to help but often can’t find effective avenues to do so
- refugees who are resettled can find it very challenging to find their feet in a new country, particularly in the early years
Community sponsorship of refugees can:
- enable private citizens, businesses and non-government organisations (NGOs) to expand Australia’s response to the global refugee challenge
- ensure that refugees are met with a warm welcome and have the support they need to find their feet as new Australians
- enable everyday Australians can share their knowledge and networks to support refugees in achieving their goal of becoming full contributors to Australian society
- bring more ordinary Australians into direct and meaningful contact with forced migrants within the Australian community
- lead to greater understanding within the community about refugee experiences and lay the groundwork for generous and compassionate policy towards forced migrants.
What are the benefits of community sponsorship?
Refugees can benefit from a strong personal network of people to help them find their feet in a new community. Refugees can also benefit from intensive, individualised and holistic support provided by committed local volunteers. This sort of wrap-around support can address the needs of all members of the family and potentially lessen the acculturation stress and isolation that refugees may experience in their early stages of settlement.
Sponsors develop new networks and relationships by coming together to pursue a powerful shared purpose. Through sponsorship, ordinary citizens uncover and build new capacities and community connections, and often develop lifelong friendships. Many former sponsors say that sponsoring a refugee is “one of the most meaningful things they have ever done” and sponsored refugees often go on to become sponsors themselves.
For the community and Australia:
Community sponsorship can enrich civic life, foster social cohesion as well as fostering full economic independence of humanitarian migrants in Australia. Sponsorship can also help regional communities attract and retain migrants to boost their populations and expand their workforces. It can enable sustainable settlement in regional locations lacking professional settlement infrastructure.
Sponsorship can help Australia as a country do more for refugees and lead other countries to do the same. It provides a model for expanding Australia’s refugee resettlement program by drawing on the time and resources of compassionate Australians to supplement the long-standing government-assisted resettlement program.
Community refugee sponsorship around the world
Community refugee sponsorship has been working successfully in Canada for more than 40 years. Ordinary community members in Canada have sponsored and welcomed more than 325,000 refugees since the late 1970s. This number is in addition to those entering under the government-funded resettlement program.
The practice is now spreading around the world with countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, New Zealand, Spain and Argentina all having programs. Australia joined this growing movement with the launch of the federal ‘CRISP’ program in 2022.
Our map was last updated in May 2023. For more information and links for each country’s program, visit the Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative’s interactive map.
You can help make a difference.
Join the movement to welcome refugees into your Australian community.