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Call on the Australian Government to expand and improve community sponsorship for refugees, so that more families can rebuild their lives in safety.

People in Afghanistan have spent decades trying to build a country where they could live safely in freedom, where human rights are respected and women and girls are encouraged to participate fully in society. Yet with US and allied forces withdrawing from Afghanistan, these same people are now in danger from the Taliban. Basic human rights are being withheld. People are being killed and many others have disappeared. They have very few options to find safety.

Since the crisis began, Amnesty has been calling on the Government to increase its humanitarian intake. It has also been calling on Immigration Minister, Alex Hawke, to immediately announce long-awaited improvements to the Federal Government’s Community Sponsorship Program (CSP). CSP allows communities across Australia to sponsor refugees and welcome them into their neighbourhoods, where they are given the tools to settle into a new life and thrive.

If improved, the CSP could help save the lives of thousands of people fleeing the Taliban and other places where their lives are in danger.

The Canadian Government has been running a successful community sponsorship program for over 40 years. Canadian communities have now helped more than 300,000 refugees find safety on top of Canada’s humanitarian intake. In comparison, for every refugee sponsored by our community under the current model of community sponsorship, the Australian government deducts one place from its own humanitarian intake. This is not good enough. Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister Hawke have a moral imperative to improve the program as a matter of urgency.

We know that a fair community refugee sponsorship program like the one in Canada works. We also know that people right around the country are ready to welcome refugees from Afghanistan and elsewhere into their communities. Now is the moment for Minister Hawke to build a fair, just and lasting model of refugee sponsorship that makes sense to us all. Minister Hawke has the power to make this happen now and now is the time we need to see action – and compassion – from our Government.

More than 43,000 people have already signed the petition, and together they have urged more than 40 local government areas to publicly support an improved community sponsorship program.

Call on the Australian Government to expand and improve community sponsorship today.

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To the Honourable Minister Hawke and Members of the House of Representatives,

We recognise there are currently only a few pathways for refugees to find a safe home in Australia.

One of them is community-led resettlement through community sponsorship.

To fully harness community generosity that can help refugees, Australia’s sponsorship program needs to be designed in a way that encourages, not hinders, more people to take part, and that expands Australia’s current refugee intake.

It needs to be expanded.

It needs to be improved.

Right now, we have the opportunity to help celebrate the refugees in our communities and call for sponsorship of others who want to call our community home, when it is no longer safe for them to continue living in theirs.

These are people who are like us. Refugees are our neighbours. Refugees play in our teams. Refugees volunteer in our communities. These are people who have lost their homes, their loved ones and life as they knew it.

Our new neighbours are asking for our help. We are calling on you to build a more generous and more accessible Community Support Program.

It must:

  1. Not take places from others in need
  2. Provide adequate support and services
  3. Limit costs
  4. Allow community, family and businesses to act as sponsors
  5. Create more places for people in need of protection to settle in Australia

As a generous country, we can and should do more.

 

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