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Refugee Resettlement Committee

The Refugee Resettlement Committee is a not-for-profit Parish based organisation run by volunteers. It is politically independent and is not reliant on government aid. Running costs are met from funds raised within the community.

MISSION STATEMENT AND GOALS

Our Mission is to undertake activities that facilitate the settlement of refugees* and their families into Australian society, with dignity and hope.

Our goals are to: 

    provide direct assistance and advocacy to refugees and their families
 
    to facilitate settlement into Australia provide friendship and social opportunities 

    to encourage refugees and their families to become involved in Australian    
    community life 

    contribute to the formation of favourable Government and community policies that
    affect the experience of refugees and their families 

    *includes new arrivals under the Special Humanitarian Program, asylum seekers and
    all other refugees whether their status was recognised before or after their arrival
    in Australia.

Note that asylum seekers in community detention while seeking refugee status are expected to be an increasing call on our services.


OUR COMMITMENT

RRC volunteers are committed to the provision of direct practical assistance to refugees from arrival until they can meet their own material and social needs, independently.

Our volunteers advocate for:

refugees to receive their rightful entitlements and development of equitable and compassionate policies, procedures and outcomes in dealings with refugees.

WHO DO WE HELP?

The Refugee Resettlement Committee helps refugees living in the north side of Canberra, Australia only.

Within our resources, including geographical limits, we assist refugees in need whether they are under permanent resident visas or other visas issued to asylum seekers pending resolution of their status.

HOW DO WE HELP?

Potential refugee clients may be referred to us by our current clients, women's refuges and providers of emergency accommodation, such as YWCA, as well as by local settlement agencies including the Migrant and Refugee Settlement Services, Red Cross, Companion House and the St Vincent de Paul Society. In helping to provide settlement services for the refugee clients, whom we accept after assessment, RRC volunteers liaise with the above organisations, and other settlement, welfare, community organisations. These include local Community Centres and cultural organisations such as Multicultural Youth Services. The RRC also liaises with the ACT and Federal Government Departments and agencies including Centrelink and Medicare. Some of the above organisations provide information, training and support for RRC volunteers.

The practical face to face services that RRC volunteers may provide to newly accepted clients varies with the length of time they have been in Australia. These services may include welcoming them and helping them with shopping and with settling into new accommodation. RRC volunteers provide transport, company and support in dealing with banks, medicare and Centrelink: and with schools or child care for their children and English classes for adults. We help refugee clients seek long term accommodation and in dealing with Housing ACT. We help them to use public transport, libraries and other community services.

We visit them in their homes and help them understand how to operate appliances: We provide them with local information, help them understand letters from government agencies and schools and pay bills. We offer friendship and social support and take them on outings to help them avoid social isolation or social exclusion We provide transport and support in keeping health related appointments and accessing chemists, pathologists , etc. We help them to learn to use buses and understand bus timetables and in their search for more permanent accommodation. We then assist with their relocation. Settlement may take several years and we help them meet their changing needs by accessing specialist services."

MEMBERSHIP

An Executive of up to 7 members is elected annually. The Executive provides leadership and develops policy to identify and help meet the needs of members and refugees. In addition to dealing with all administrative matters associated with the operation of the Committee, including the distribution of Newsletters and general information, the Executive arranges meetings of the general membership as well as organising training and mentoring as necessary.

Registered members can choose to undertake those settlement tasks which best suit their talents and available time. Mentoring can be arranged and general training provided by way of a combination of internal sessions addressed by guest speakers and external sessions provided by various settlement and community organisations.

As many of the appointments and functions for refugees occur within business hours we have a special need for volunteers available during those times- eg part time workers and retirees. Other activities can be effectively performed in the evenings or at week ends.

 

WE HAVE AN ONGOING NEED FOR NEW VOLUNTEERS

HOW TO JOIN

Registered membership of the Committee is subject to formal interview and an orientation program. Because of the sensitivity of the activities of registered members, volunteers will be required to make a formal undertaking with regard to the Settlement Service Principles and the Privacy and Confidentiality Agreement under which the group operates. Prospective members will also be required to obtain general registration for Working with Vulnerable People under ACT Legislation.

Executive Functions:

President
Vice President
Secretary 
Treasurer 
Membership Officer 
Community Liaison Officer 
Client Liaison Officer 

Note: Where there are insufficient nominations, one person may take responsibility for more than one function.

 

CURRENT POSITION

We are expecting that in the 2014-15 financial year, there will be some reduction in the numbers of IHSS entrants from Africa and some increase in entrants from Myanmar (Burma) and Southern Asia and from the Middle East. We also anticipate that there will be some additions and improvements in the government services being made available to new entrants and those still in the settlement process. A high continuing demand for our services is expected and we are always keen to attract new members.

The practical face to face services that we provide are described in the previous section on “How do we help” and details on how to become a member are to be found in the how to join section.

For further details please contact us by email at refugee@stjohnkippax.org.au or through the Parish Secretary on 6254 3236.

CONTACT WITH OTHER REFUGEE AND COMMUNITY ORGANISATIONS

HISTORY FROM 1979 TO 2014

Our Committee has operated since 1979 under several different Government arrangements.

For almost 22 years we provided direct practical assistance to refugees through the Community Refugee Settlement Scheme (CRSS). We were registered by the Immigration Department as a CRSS group and received limited government funding to assist refugees in specified ways. We operated to a very large extent by seeking donations from the public.

In 1997, our Committee was awarded Austcare’s National Paul Cullen Award for outstanding services to refugees. In 1999, to mark the 20th Anniversary of CRSS, the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs awarded our Committee a Certificate of Appreciation for providing invaluable and continuing assistance in the settlement of refugees in the ACT.

CRSS ceased to operate from 1 July 2001. To that time we had provided a full range of settlement assistance to 45 families (175 persons) from 9 different countries to settle in the ACT, mainly in Belconnen. We also provided some assistance to humanitarian entrants from Kosovo in this period

Between 1 July 7 2001 and 1 September 2009, our Committee functioned as a Community Support for Refugees (CSR) - a group of volunteers registered through the Immigration Department under its Integrated Humanitarian Settlement Strategy (IHSS).

We assisted a number of different contractors in the IHSS which provided initial intensive settlement support for short periods, usually about 6 months. Our Committee continued to provide settlement support on a needs basis for humanitarian entrants who had been exited from IHSS. We also supported people with humanitarian needs, who had arrived outside the IHSS arrangements and who had Temporary Protection Visas. In 2004, we joined ACT Government coordinated arrangements to assist a number of Afghanistani asylum seekers recently released from detention on Nauru. In just over 4 years, we provided various forms of settlement assistance to 53 families (165 persons) from 8 different countries.

Since 2 October 2005 our Committee has operated as a community not - for - profit organisation. Since that date there has been no Government provision under its new form of IHSS for registering our Committee and we receive no Government funding. We now rely solely on donations from the public and the Church covers our insurance requirements. Under this new form of IHSS, there is one contractor in the ACT, a consortium of Catholic Care and Companion House. The RRC has remained willing to deliver settlement services for which IHSS contractors are responsible, however CatholicCare decided during 2008 not to request help from RRC volunteers. We do have a Working Agreement with Companion House. The end result is that an increasing proportion of the settlement services RRC provides is directed to humanitarian entrants who are outside the short term IHSS provisions.

In the period of operation to 2011, we have provided various forms of settlement assistance to 38 families (133 persons) from 7 different countries. We anticipate providing assistance to a number of other families in the near future. 

In almost 30 years of operation, the RRC has helped 136 families (473 persons) from 17 different countries. These people have come from many different cultures and many religious faiths, Christian and non- Christian. Many of them are now making outstanding contributions to Australia.


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