The federal government is actively considering parts of a Canadian-style model which allows refugees to be resettled if they are sponsored by community members. Canada has welcomed more than 300,000 refugees under the community sponsorship scheme since the 1970s, in addition to those arriving under government-funded programs.
Australia’s government is looking favorably at some elements similar to Canada’s community scheme, SBS News has confirmed. Commonwealth coordinator-general for migrant services Alison Larkins last week handed the findings of a review into Australia’s current refugee support arrangements to Immigration Minister Alex Hawke.
The review was based on feedback from local stakeholders, international counterparts in Canada, ahe United Kingdom, and Ireland, who have adopted similar models, and the UNHCR.
In 2017, the government introduced a “community support program” designed to allow individuals, businesses, or community groups to provide financial support to resettle refugees with employment prospects in Australia.
But refugee advocates have raised concerns Australia’s current model is cost-prohibitive and the places it offers come – in contrast to Canada’s model – at the expense of other government-funded resettlement programs.
Mr Hawke said he would be considering possible changes to the resettlement pathway in Australia.
“I look forward to ensuring the program becomes a genuine, successful partnership between the community, business, and the Government to provide beneficial outcomes to our refugee and humanitarian arrivals in Australia,” he said.
A previous review by former senior official Peter Shergold recommended Australia overhaul its current approach to the “shared cost model” and introduce three complementary pathways focusing on community, employment, and university sponsorship pathways. “Concerns have been expressed that the cost of the program – and, in particular, the visa application charges – are too high,” the Shergold report found.