Some of the ways that BR4R has and is ...

Supporting Refugees

BR4R Settlement Support Group

 

Introduction

In August 2020, BR4R was invited by the then newly formed Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (CRSI) to be part of a 6-month pilot project. This project aims to train local mentor groups to assist refugees to settle in their region.

CRSI

Community refugee sponsorship is a practice that enables individuals in a local area to come together to form a sponsor group, committing to providing financial, emotional and settlement support to refugee newcomers over a 12- month period. The sponsor group becomes deeply and directly involved in supporting refugees to apply their skills, realise their goals and ultimately contribute back to their new communities.

Taking up CRSI’s invitation, the BR4R Settlement Support Group was established. This group underwent training by CRSI to become effective mentors for refugees seeking to settle in our region.

For more information about CRSI see:- https://www.ausrefugeesponsorship.com.au

Refugees_welcome_vs

The Benefits of Community Sponsorship

  • Sponsorship is great for refugees, who can benefit from personal connections to help them find their feet in a new country. Refugees benefit from intensive, individualised and holistic support provided by committed local volunteers.
  • Sponsorship is great for sponsors, who develop new networks and relationships by coming together to pursue a powerful shared purpose. Through sponsorship, ordinary citizens uncover and build capacities and communities, and often develop lifelong friendships. Many former sponsors say that sponsoring a refugee is one of the most meaningful things have ever done and sponsored refugees often go on to become sponsors themselves.
  • Community sponsorship can enrich civic life and also foster social cohesion and the full economic participation of humanitarian migrants in Australia.
  • Sponsorship can help regional communities attract and retain migrants to boost their populations and expand their workforces. It can enable sustainable settlement in regional locations lacking professional settlement infrastructure.
  • Sponsorship provides a model for expanding Australia’s refugee resettlement program by drawing on the time and resources of compassionate Australians to supplement the long-standing government-funded resettlement program.

The BR4R Settlement Support Group

  The aim of the Group is for social connections to be created between refugees/people seeking asylum and the local community, as part of successful settlement into the area. Social connections and employment together are recognised as essential for success in this process.

  Our group currently comprises 13 members who, collectively, have a rich and diverse range of educational, work related and social backgrounds and connections with the local community. They include small business entrepreneurs, social workers, educators, office managers, and sporting trainers.

  For long-term sustainable success of settlement of refugees and people seeking asylum there are certain key areas of expected activity.

  To maximise success, the Group offers support in the areas of …

    1. health and social services
    2. social inclusion
    3. employment
    4. education
    5. accommodation

  The Group fully realises that the overall success of settlement in our area is highly dependent on developing a healthy and respectful relationship between the new residents, our group members and the broader Ballina community. This is crucial to building and extending this project to support refugees and people seeking asylum to become happy, healthy and valued members of our local community.

What can you do?

  • Become a member of BR4R’s refugee settlement group when it expands to meet growing numbers of refugees arriving in our region.
  • Become a volunteer to assisting refugees to settle (e.g. teaching English; giving driving lessons; teaching a craft or hobby).
  • Assist with fund-raising or donate personally (e.g. by pledging).

For more information, please contact admin@br4r.org.au

Homestay Program

Through our Homestay Program we aim to build a bridge between people seeking asylum and refugees and the Australian community through our common humanity.

Everyone looks forward to a break from their day-to-day existence.  For most of us this comes in the form of a holiday – a trip to a new area, a visit to friends and family, a chance to experience something new.

However, people seeking asylum and refugees often do not have the funds, knowledge or contacts to organise such an event.

We live in such a beautiful area and it is a privilege to share it with others.

Homestay Hosts offer to accommodate people seeking asylum and refugees who wish to come to this region for periods ranging from a couple of days to a week.  The visitors may be a single person or a large family – the host and their facilities are matched to the needs of the visitors.

BR4R covers travel costs for the visitors as well as providing a small allowance for the host’s expenses.

We also have a group of volunteers to assist the hosts if needed, offering excursions, picnics etc. or transportation.

This is an excellent way to show people seeking asylum and refugees that they are valued by Australians and to show them part of our country and our culture.  It is also an opportunity for the host to experience people from another culture.

If you’d like to find out more about or Homestay program you can download the Homestay Program Information Guide or contact the Homestay Co-ordinator via our contact page. 

You may wish to become a host or a volunteer – the rewards are huge.

Refugee Family Reunification Project

 

T he Department of Home Affairs continues to separate families who seek to resettle in Australia. Many of these families have been detained in offshore detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island and in onshore detention centres and ‘prison’ hotels for over 8 years.

The Refugee Family Reunification Project was an initiative of Ballina Region for Refugees in 2018. BR4R engaged a Project Worker to work with refugee advocacy and support groups, social justice groups and churches across the Far North Coast to raise awareness about the federal government’s deliberate separation of refugee families.

The second part of the project was to assist groups on the Far North Coast to plan actions advocating that refugee families are safely resettled together in New Zealand, Australia and the USA. Groups were able to choose their own strategies from a resource kit provided by BR4R.

An Advocacy Resource Kit has been developed and is available for any groups who wish to undertake this important work. You can view it and download the .pdf file (see the link to the right).

BR4R received a funding grant from the Mercy Foundation for this work and to engage the Project Worker, Aya Pigdon.

You can download the Kit or if you want any further information please enquire via our contact page.

Aya Pigdon, Project Worker

Advocacy Resource Kit

for the
Refugee Family Reunification Project

Nauru Island

Nauru Friendship Group

T

he Nauru Friendship Group was established to provide support to men and women who were illegally detained on Nauru.  We built friendships by maintaining regular contact  – by phone, Whatsapp, Facebook, email – and respond to requests for items such as clothing, food and phone credit.

Two of the issues that were facing men and women and their families who had been detained on Nauru for up to 5 years, were the lack of medical treatment and access to culturally familiar food.  The indefinite detention had a severe impact on the mental health of men, women and children and they were desperate to resettle in a safe country and begin to build their lives.

The detention centre was subsequently determined to be illegal and was closed with some of those detained being released into the community and some brought to Australia.  The #kidsoffNauru initiative was effective in getting many families back to Australia.

Consequently this project has now ended but has been credited with being beneficial to the mental health of many of the detainees.

Nauru Detention Centre

Financial Support

Ballina Region for Refugees supports many needs in relation to refugees and people seeking asylum.

Many are in response to urgent calls for help and some are more regular in nature.

On a regular basis we assist with communication and postage to those who are held in detention in PNG as well as in Australia and frequently send them parcels of food, clothing and other basic and essential items.  Some funds go towards medical treatment.

We also provide funds to support refugees and people seeking asylum through our Homestay Program, covering the costs of transport and some expenses.

E ach year, over the past few years we have raised and distributed over $20,000 in answer to calls for assistance from various refugees and associations.  Despite the fund-rasiing limitations imposed by the Covid out break last year, we managed to provide over $ 30,000 in funds and materials financed by the efforts of BR4R and its Volunteers and Supporters.

These projects and associations include:

  • Urgent legal fund for Manus men
    The flawed refugee determination system in PNG means many Manus men have been denied a fair legal hearing of refugee applications. Urgent help is needed to stop their forced deportation back to danger. Anne Moon, who has spoken at BR4R meetings, coordinates this action. Organised via Chuffed.at
  • Gifts for Manus and Nauru
    ‘Gifts for Manus and Nauru’ is a registered charity supporting our asylum seeker and refugee friends at Manus and Nauru through sending parcels of much needed items, access to medication, and through the provision of mobile phone credit. Gifts for Manus
  • Manus Emergency Fund
    Supports Manus men in emergencies by raising funds for legal representation and grass roots relief. Manus Emergency Fund
  • Legal Aid for refugees and those seeking asylum though organisations such as RefugeeLegal and Refugee Council of Australia.
  • Manus Lives Matter
    Sister Jane Keogh in Canberra coordinates a project that links parishes and individuals with some of the most disadvantaged and isolated of the 900 men on Manus.   Manus Lives Matter
  • BR4R’s Nauru Friendship Group
    Linking women in the Northern Rivers with isolated women on Nauru. Postage paid for packages sent by volunteers of clothing, underwear, food, nuts, herbs and spices, protein powder etc 
  • BR4R’s Homestay Program
    Transport costs and accommodation for .Flights, bus fares & accommodation for Homestay guests from Sydney and Brisbane.
  • Qld Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma (QPASTT)
    Provides flexible and culturally sensitive services to promote the health and well being of people who have been tortured or who have suffered refugee related trauma prior to migrating to Australia.
  • Funding to refugees in PNG via the Brigidine Sisters
  • Assistance to E-raced – a group aiming to break down the barriers facing all migrants including refugees
  • Supporting the Refugee Council
  • Biloela Billboard – Funds to keep the billboard up to get the Biloela family home – Biloela Billboard
  • Justice ProjectManus Relief Fund
  • Support for Rural Australians for Refugees
  • RefugeeConnect  – who help refugees and people seeking asylum who are in Brisbane to settle in and integrate with the wider community
  • ….. and many other projects and requests for funds

ABN 64 683380 227