A group of people holding yellow Amnesty banners standing outside Parliament House in Canberra

It’s time to welcome back refugees – new poll finds strong support for community sponsorship

As new Immigration Minister, Alex Hawke, prepares to announce important reforms to Australia’s Community Sponsorship of Refugees, a poll commissioned by Amnesty International Australia has found the majority of Australians (55%) support communities being able to directly sponsor refugees into their neighbourhoods.

Amnesty Campaigner, Shankar Kasynathan, who came to Australia as a community sponsored refugee, said: “This new evidence clearly shows the Australian community wants to do more to welcome refugees. Minister Hawke has strong public support to improve and increase the community refugee sponsorship program so Australians who want to directly support refugees can do so.”

Over the past three years, Amnesty International has campaigned for improvements to the existing CSP which is currently too expensive and too restrictive for most communities to support, and is inclusive of, not in addition to, the Federal Government’s refugee intake.

In that time, more than 40,000 people and 40 local government authorities have signed Amnesty’s My New Neighbour petition supporting improvements, and countless community members and refugees have told us their beautifully inspiring stories that illustrate the benefits to both the community and the refugees when we welcome them into our neighbourhoods and help them rebuild their lives.

The latest poll of 1,600 people across metropolitan and regional Australia found that the majority (52%) agree refugees should be allowed to settle in Australia, with strong support for community sponsorship across different age groups and in both rural and urban areas.

Kasynathan said, “Community sponsorship of refugees is a no brainer. It dodges the divisive politics, let’s the government get out of the way, and puts communities in charge of bringing refugees into their own neighbourhoods if and when they wish to do so”.