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Byron Shire
July 29, 2021

New initiative supports refugees in the community

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Coordinator Stanley Yeo kneeling, centre. Photo supplied.

Sponsoring refugees to settle in Australia could be on the cards if the Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (CRSI) pilot program, that Ballina Region for Refugees (BRFR) is participating in, is successful.

‘Ballina Region for Refugees has been successful in their application to be one of six regional groups trained by the CRSI to help an asylum seeker or refugee to settle in our area,’ said a spokesperson for the group.

Working with Regional Opportunities Australia (ROA) CRSI are looking to find suitable people or families to settle in communities, with support, around Australia.

As part of the support program BR4R’s 13-member Mentorship Group, coordinated by vice-president, Stanley Yeo, will offer support to the individual or family seeking asylum to help the find suitable accommodation, transport, and familiarisation with the local area.

The Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative has been advocating for the introduction of a community refugee sponsorship program in Australia, which would enable ordinary Australians to sponsor refugees from overseas. This vision is inspired by the successful community sponsorship program operating in Canada since the late 1970s. Similar schemes are now being implemented in many countries around the world.

‘It’s very exciting for BR4R to be part of this positive initiative,’ said Mr Yeo.

‘BR4R already hosts asylum seekers and refugees in its Homestay Program and it will be very gratifying to be able to help an individual or family to settle here permanently.

‘To add to the excitement, a member of our mentor group has offered a hospitality apprenticeship at her Lennox Head restaurant to a Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) holder as part of the CRSI-BR4R mentor group initiative.’

The Group Mentorship Program is a six-month pilot with its aim being to show how such a program could work on a larger scale. The Federal government is currently reviewing its refugee sponsorship policies and it’s hoped that a suitable federal community refugee sponsorship program could be available next year.

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