Yarra City Council today stepped up Australia’s response to the global refugee situation by unanimously passing a motion in support of expanding and improving the Australian Government’s current refugee community sponsorship program.
“The Amnesty Victoria Action Centre is based in the City of Yarra. Today we are delighted to see Yarra join the growing community of councils from all over Australia that support our My New Neighbour campaign calling for an affordable and accessible community-led solution to the crisis”
Mario Santos, Amnesty International, Victorian Branch President
“The Amnesty Victoria Action Centre is based in the City of Yarra. Today we are delighted to see Yarra join the growing community of councils from all over Australia that support our My New Neighbour campaign calling for an affordable and accessible community-led solution to the crisis” Mario Santos, Amnesty International, Victorian Branch President.
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 motion, proposed by Mike McEvoy, calls on the Federal Government to step up and ensure that the intake of refugees under community sponsorship is above and beyond any existing humanitarian or visa quotas, and to lower the program’s prohibitive visa fees.
Yarra City Council is one of almost 150 local councils across the country that have already declared themselves Refugee Welcome Zones.
“We all want to treat people the way we would like to be treated. An expanded and improved community sponsorship programme will enable individuals and groups in the community to do just that, help people who are in desperate need of assistance. We couldn’t be more delighted with Yarra’s decision to get behind this campaign,” said Mario Santos.
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 Mario Santos.
“We hope that other councils around the country will take their lead from Yarra City Council and take their commitment one step further by adding their voices to the call for a greater community sponsorship program.”