BR4R president Marilyn Leeks recently attended a Community Refugee Integration and Settlement Pilot (CRISP) conference in Melbourne. Here is her report.

This was Australia’s first gathering to celebrate and grow community-led refugee welcome.
My takeout message from the panel of speakers was the need to work collaboratively to ensure that a range of stable pathways are available for new settlers moving to Australia.

The conference sessions were organised under four headings: Vision, Think, Define, Imagine. Each session had plenary speakers followed by a panel of speakers or breakout sessions.


Lisa Button, CEO Community Refugee Sponsorship Australia, presented an overview of the achievements of the CRISP, launched the national campaign 100 groups in 100 days and explained complementary pathways.

In partnership with the Refugee Council of Australia, Talent Beyond Boundaries, the Refugee Education Special Interest group and the Settlement Council of Australia, CRSA developed principles to unlock pathways for refugees and ensure consistency across existing and future pathways. For more information about Complementary Pathways refer to this link.

The Hon Andrew Giles MP, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs stated that the government positively and enthusiastically support CRISP and looked forward to the pilot continuing and expanding. He spoke strongly about his goal to change the narrative of fear about refugees and asylum seekers coming to Australia.

Claudia Gross and Mayra from Tweed Welcomes Refugees participated on the panel of nine conference participants who shared their positive experiences and the challenges. The lack of affordable housing was raised by several members of the panel.


This was a plenary session with a panel of 3 academic researchers

Dr Asher Hirsch a Senior Policy Officer with the Refugee Council of Australia, the national peak body for refugees and the organisations and individuals who support them. His work involves research, policy development and advocacy on national and international issues impacting refugee communities.
Dr Anthea Vogl is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Technology (UTS), Sydney. Her research takes a critical, interdisciplinary approach to the regulation of refugees, migrants and noncitizens. Anthea is currently co-leading an Australian Research Council Discovery Project Grant on private refugee sponsorship in Australia (2022- 2025).

Dr Nathan Gardner is a post-doctoral researcher at the Melbourne Law School (University of Melbourne) and a historian of Australian immigration, multiculturalism and the country’s diverse ethnic communities. Nathan is currently working on a project funded by the Australian Research Council to produce a comprehensive historical study of community sponsorship of refugees in Australia.

Breakout sessions
Community of Practice: This session provided a space for CSG members and others to actively engage in mapping existing resources and assets within the CoP to find solutions to common challenges faced by groups in the CRISP.

The role of broader civil society in refugee resettlement: I participated in this session and spoke as part of a panel of four speakers. Other panel members represented the Catholic Care Social Services, Cassinia Environmental, Forcibly Displaced People Network Tasmania – the voice of LGBTIQ+ ( Participants asked a number of questions about why the North Coast had been so successful in forming CSGs and welcoming new CRISP households. Br4R appears to be unique as a supporting community organisation promoting and supporting CSGs – financially and in other practical ways.

Building a complementary pathways ecosystem.


This was a plenary session with a panel of speakers including Victoria Stevenson from Department of Home Affairs. She spoke positively about CRISP and the commitment of the Government to support community settlement beyond the pilot phase.

My takeout message from the panel of speakers who represented different partners in building community settlement programs, complementary pathways and government policy were working collaboratively to ensure that a range of stable pathways were available for new settlers moving to Australia.

They emphasised that working together would strengthen the future opportunities to bring refugees to Australia and expand the pathways available.

The last session of the day was a plenary session when the participants were inspired by the speaker Jack Manning Bancroft. Jack is a Bundjalung man and the Founder and CEO of AIME. He is a graduate of the University of Sydney and Stanford University, a former NSW Young Australian of the Year. He is currently an Honorary Fellow at Deakin University with the Indigenous Knowledge Systems Lab.

Jack founded AIME ‘a social experiment [to] change Indigenous inequity in Australia’. Kindness and imagination are key to the work done by AIME.

For more information click here.

To conclude the conference Lisa Button linked kindness and imagination at the core of AIME’s work with CRSA’s values of Human kindness | Courage | Autonomy | Innovation | Trust.

The program for the conference and more information about the speakers and panel members can be found here.

A panel session at the Melbourne CRISP conference.