Our good friends: Community refugee sponsorship in Australia

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Copyright: Hoang, Khanh
Community sponsorship of refugees is an important mechanism to give refugees access to durable solutions through resettlement and ‘complementary pathways’. Around the world, states are following the pioneering model of sponsorship that has operated in Canada for over 40 years. They have made commitments in the 2016 New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants and the 2018 Global Compact on Refugees towards implementing programs to enhance refugees’ access to durable solutions, including through community sponsorship. Despite an emerging international practice on community sponsorship, greater clarity is needed to understand how it works in different contexts and the barriers and enablers to success. Australia is unique amongst the countries with existing community sponsorship programs, owing to its long involvement in resettlement and previous attempts of community sponsorship dating back to the 1970s. It has much to learn from the experiences of other jurisdictions and vice versa, much to offer. This thesis undertakes a thorough socio-legal examination of Australia’s experience with community sponsorship spanning 1979 to 2022, consisting of three separate programs. This thesis examines whether the current parameters for community sponsorship are adequate to achieve the objectives of enhancing access to durable solutions for refugees, what lessons Australian policy makers can learn from historical experience, and what principles should guide future policy development in this area. It argues that the current policy parameters are inadequate to allow community sponsorship to meet its objectives, in part because policy makers have paid insufficient attention to historical perspectives. Drawing upon evaluations of Australia’s past and present programs ­— the Community Refugee Settlement Scheme, Community Proposal Pilot and the Community Support Program — the thesis presents a set of overarching principles to underpin future reform, including: the need to foster public-private partnerships; the need for clarity in policy framing around community sponsorship; and the need to engage and sustain widespread community involvement.
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PhD Doctorate
UNSW Faculty
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