Ballina Region for Refugees (BR4R) is a participant of the Australian government’s CRISP program, and has two trained Community Support Groups welcoming refugees to settle in our region: Community Refugee Sponsorships
BR4R has sponsored three Afghan refugee families to settle in our region under the Australian government’s Special Humanitarian Visa program: Special Humanitarian Visa Sponsorships
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
Refugee Family Reunification Project
Nauru Friendship Group
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
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 Project – Manus 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