A new opportunity to mentor refugees in Australia – Group Mentorship Program Round 2:
Last year, with Australia’s refugee resettlement program largely paused due to the pandemic, we implemented a pilot program that screened and trained local groups of volunteers to provide practical support to refugees already in Australia, and then paired those groups up with refugees living in their community and in need of additional support. We called this the ‘Group Mentorship Program’. The idea was to demonstrate the viability of some key features of a future community sponsorship program as well as develop the tools and know-how that will be required to see such a program run successfully in the future. The program has been a great success, with so many groups around the country eagerly taking up the opportunity to help us trailblaze a new way of supporting refugee newcomers.
We are still waiting to hear from the federal government on the outcome of its review of private refugee sponsorship in Australia, and our borders remain largely closed to refugee newcomers and other overseas migrants due to the pandemic. So, rather than just sit and wait, CRSA is happy to announce we’ll be running the Group Mentorship Program again and will be hosting online public information sessions on 22 July and 26 August for those who would like to find out more. We’re eager to use this opportunity to engage and train new groups of volunteers, test new elements of a future sponsorship model and continue to facilitate more community members being able to provide practical, hands-on way supporting to refugees in their communities.
We’re keen to engage with groups of volunteers all over the country, but really want to encourage groups in regions that were not represented in the pilot program – South Australia, Western Australia and Northern Territory! If you’re based in one of these states and are interested to know more, please register for one of the public information sessions and share this with your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Don’t worry if you don’t already belong to a group – we may be able to help you find others in your community who are interested in joining this adventure with you once you’ve attended an information session. Let’s get the whole country engaged and familiar with the benefits of community led support for refugees!
Individuals can register for public information sessions:
22 July (12.30pm – 2pm AEDT) here
- 2 August (6.30pm – 8pm AEDT) here
- 26 August (10am – 11.30am AEDT) here
Interested community organisation representatives can register:
- 12 August (2pm – 3.30pm AEDT) here
Timeline for Group Mentorship Program in 2021:
In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to prepare prior to submitting your application:
As an individual:
- Get together a group of at least 5 adults who live within the same area (eg within a 15 or 20 minute drive) We may be able to assist you to find a group after you attend one of our public information sessions.
- Apply for national police and working with children checks for each member of your group
- Do some research into your local community through the eyes of a refugee newcomer and find out what opportunities and resources are available for refugees
- If you have a connection with a local community organisation (eg church/faith group, school, sports club, charity) talk to them about whether they might be able to support your group in doing this work (eg by providing access to their insurance, helping your group establish a bank account etc)
As a community-based organisation:
- Let your members/volunteers know about this program
- Assist interested members/volunteers to obtain clearance checks (police and working with children)
- Start thinking about what practical support your organisation could provide a mentor group (eg help with setting up a bank account, insurance coverage etc)
If you represent an NGO that works closely with refugees in Australia, we invite you to get in touch with Nicole Watkins (Nicole.Watkins@refugeesponsorship.org.au) if you are aware of individuals/families who you think would benefit from the support of a local mentor group. To be eligible, individuals must be in Australia and hold a permanent or temporary protection visa.