Campaign update: Australia’s Community Sponsorship Program for refugees

By Zaki Haidari (he/him), Amnesty International Australia Refugee Rights Campaigner

This past month, we’ve seen the first refugee families from Syria, Afghanistan and Myanmar arrive in Australia under the Government’s pilot Community Refugee Integration and Settlement Program (CRISP).

Announced at the end of 2021, CRISP will see 1,500 refugees over a four-year period rebuild their lives in safety in Australia.

It’s an initiative that will save lives, and it wouldn’t have been made possible without our compassionate supporters who took action. 40,000 people called on the Government to improve and expand Australia’s Community Sponsorship Program for refugees.

After years of relentless advocacy, at the end of 2021 the Federal Government not only announced the rollout of the CRISP pilot – they also finally agreed to dramatically reduce the cost of Australia’s existing Community Sponsorship Program, making it more accessible for everyday Australians to participate and welcome refugees into their communities.

But we know that any Community Sponsorship Program, existing or pilot, must be in addition to Australia’s annual Humanitarian intake – and not take places from the existing cap of 13,750 places.

That existing cap is already at its lowest level in many years, at a time when the need for resettlement has never been greater. In contrast, countries such as the United States are committed to resettling 125,000 refugees every year.

If even one place is deducted from Australia’s grossly inadequate humanitarian intake every time a community sponsors a refugee, the Government not only passes on its own obligations to everyday Australians who end up footing the bill – but we don’t end up helping more refugees rebuild their lives in safety.

Together, we are proof that our collective voices really do pressure our leaders to make meaningful change. I hope you will continue to raise yours with me.

Everyday Australians want to do their bit. It’s time for our Government to deliver on its responsibilities, and do the same.

Please join me in calling on the Albanese government to raise Australia’s refugee and humanitarian intake to at least 30,000 places – ensuring Community Sponsorship efforts are additional – in the upcoming October budget.

Amnesty is a movement of everyday people joining together to challenge injustice and defend human rights. For 60 years, we’ve been shining a light in the darkness to expose abuses, ensure accountability, change laws and improve lives.

By the end of 2025, Amnesty’s vision is to raise refugee and humanitarian intake numbers, increase community resettlement, secure the release of those incarcerated on- and off-shore and build safe pathways for refugees into Australia. Learn more about our refugee rights campaign work.

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