Albury, Wodonga & Wagga Wagga Councils come together in support of community sponsorship for refugees

Last night Albury Council, Wodonga Council and Wagga Wagga Council marked a significant moment in Australia’s response to the global refugee situation by simultaneously passing motions in support of expanding and improving the Australian Government’s current refugee community sponsorship program.

“This is a fantastic show of support for welcoming refugees and Amnesty International is so grateful to have three councils joining together to get behind expanding this neighbourhood-led solution to the global refugee crisis.”

Shankar Kasynathan, Refugee Campaigner at Amnesty International Australia.

“This is a fantastic show of support for welcoming refugees and Amnesty International is so grateful to have three councils joining together to get behind expanding this neighbourhood-led solution to the global refugee crisis,” said Shankar Kasynathan, Refugee Campaigner at Amnesty International Australia.

Community sponsorship is a model where ordinary members of the community are able to sponsor visas for refugees, who wish to begin the process of rebuilding their lives in safety in Australia.

The Councils join a growing collection of local councils, including the City of Whittlesea and Moreland Council – in calling on the Federal Government to step up and ensure that the intake of refugees under community sponsorship must not take the places from people in need and requires an overhaul including to lower the program’s prohibitive visa fees.

Albury, Wodonga and Wagga Wagga are already part of the collective of 150 local councils across the country that have declared themselves Refugee Welcome Zones.

Every day communities around Australia welcome new neighbours into their neighbourhoods. Sometimes those new neighbours are refugees and the role councils play in welcoming them so that they can rebuild their lives in safety is crucial, so it’s fantastic to see these councils step up with the passing of these motions.” 

Every day communities around Australia welcome new neighbours into their neighbourhoods. Sometimes those new neighbours are refugees and the role councils play in welcoming them so that they can rebuild their lives in safety is crucial, so it’s fantastic to see these councils step up with the passing of these motions,” said Shankar Kasynathan.

The community sponsorship model has worked successfully in Canada for almost 40 years, welcoming over 280,000 refugees through the program, in addition to its humanitarian intake.

In contrast, in Australia, the community sponsorship program is capped at only 1,000 places this year and for every privately sponsored refugee, the government takes a space away from the annual humanitarian intake of 13,500.

“We can see from Canada’s example that the kindness of neighbours can help people who have lost everything to start again. An expanded and improved community sponsorship program in Australia would allow more people seeking safety to rebuild their lives, and set up a home here where they can prosper and thrive as new arrivals,” said Shankar Kasynathan.

“We hope that councils around the country take the lead from these three councils that stepped up last night and will take their commitment further by adding their voices to the call for a greater community sponsorship program.”

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