A new Community Support Program (CSP) was launched in May 2019 which allows more opportunities for organisations to support refugees in resettling in Australia. The Australian government has allowed businesses, individuals and families to work with a small number of “approved proposing organisations” to put forward someone outside Australia who is in need of humanitarian assistance or may fall under Australia’s complementary protection obligations for a visa.
This model learns from Canada’s effective and successful private sponsorship program, which has been running for over forty years. One aspect of their program is that Sponsorship Agreement Holders use partnerships with businesses and connections with refugee communities to bring over those in need of humanitarian aid.
The CSP focuses on refugees who are “job ready”, which is positive for Australia’s economy, but potentially is at odds with the overarching aims of the refugee and humanitarian program: it prioritises those with skills who are willing to move to regional areas as opposed to those who are most desperately in need of protection. This project puts the onus on an individual’s ability to contribute financially to the country, and thereby infuses the humanitarian program, whose focus is goodwill and genuine need, with aspects of the skilled worker visa regime already in place in Australia. This is important because it is not an addition to the Government’s visa program, but is a way of filling the quota already in place for a refugee and humanitarian intake.
Despite some drawbacks, this scheme is an important one because of its ability to reframe the conversation around refugees as positive additions to the community. It empowers business to have a positive impact in the community and assist people on an individual level by using labour mobility schemes to increase opportunities for refugees worldwide.