After four years of relentless campaigning by communities across Australia, the Federal Government has finally agreed to dramatically reduce the cost and bureaucratic burden for those wanting to sponsor refugees and welcome them into their neighbourhoods.
The improvements announced at the Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) today, include:
- A new four-year pilot for 1500 ‘unlinked’ refugees in urgent need of resettlement who will be referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees under the s200 visa category and will have all the same opportunities as other refugees coming under that category.
- An ongoing Community Support Program for 1,000 refugees to be sponsored at a significantly reduced cost of $8000 for the primary applicant.
Shankar Kasynathan, refugee campaigner for Amnesty International Australia, said: “After presenting the support of 40,000 Australians, from 40 communities and their local governments calling for a fairer refugee sponsorship program to our political leaders Amnesty welcomes the new pilot scheme and the improved CSP”.
“The new program will significantly lower the exorbitant cost and bureaucratic burden of the existing scheme and allow more refugees to be sponsored by Australians wanting to welcome them into their communities. However, while the process of applying for one of the 5,500 places over four years will be far simpler and cost effective, Immigration Minister, Alex Hawke, must also commit to it being in addition to, not in place of, the annual humanitarian quota.”
Mohammed Azad, a former Afghan refugee, who has spent the last three years and almost $40,000 securing a visa for his brother and sister to join him in Australia, said:
“These improvements announced today are fantastic news for those trying to bring people to safety. For me, it would have been easier to bring my own family here and the last few years wouldn’t have been so hard”.
Just 13,750 refugees are meant to be resettled annually as part of the Federal Government’s policy to help alleviate a global crisis that has seen the number of refugees around the world balloon to more than 26 million. This 2020 figure does not include those recently fleeing Myanmar and Afghanistan. Australia cut its refugee intake from 18,750 in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.