A new collaboration to support refugee resettlement 

indigo foundation has a long history of supporting refugee rights and resettlement in Australia. From day one, our long-standing partnerships in Afghanistan and South Sudan have been driven by leaders of diaspora communities in Australia, themselves former refugees. We are committed to continuing to do work on this issue and, over the past year, have worked on a collaboration with a relatively new organisation in Australia, Community Refugee Sponsorship Australia (CRSA). There is already a strong connection between indigo and CRSA – our Patron Libby Lloyd AM is CRSA’s Chair and Ali Reza Yunespour is on CRSA’s Steering Committee. 

 CRSA is leading civil society efforts to introduce a community refugee sponsorship program in Australia, similar to the model in Canada, to increase Australia’s intake of refugees and build strong and supportive connections between newly arrived refugees and communities in Australia. While they are advocating to government on this issue, CRSA have set up a group mentorship program where small local groups are linked with newly-arrived refugee households to provide practical support and friendship. indigo foundation has signed on to be a ‘Supporting Community Organisation’, which means we will trial supporting a small number of mentoring groups. At the moment, we have two local groups in Sydney and one in Wollongong. 

You can find out more about CRSA’s work here.  If you want to get involved, you can contact CRSA directly or if you might be interested in helping to form an indigo refugee friends group, please get in touch with us on info@indigofoundation.org 

Indigo Refugee Friends groups in Randwick and Coogee organised a spring breakout picnic in November

Meet the Coogee and Randwick Indigo Refugee Friends groups 

Leah convenes the Coogee group and Judy convenes the Randwick group.

  1. Can you tell us a bit about the indigo refugee friends groups?

Leah: The Coogee group has nine members, spanning three generations. We connected with CRSA through Libby Lloyd and Deborah Raphael, both long-time indigo supporters, so it was natural for us to look to indigo as a supportive community organisation. Several of us have adult children and grandchildren and have left full time work but are not ready to settle quietly into retirement. Several of us work and have young families. Several of us have professional experience relevant to human rights/refugee needs, but we think that the first thing that is needed is an open mind, a warm heart and willingness to respond to the family’s needs as they emerge.  

Judy: The Randwick group has eight members with a mix of backgrounds. We have current and retired lawyers, academics, workers from the not-for-profit sector and a student. Group members share a commitment to human rights and each has their own history of volunteering and/or working with refugees. We are all eager to play our part in smoothing the settlement process for a refugee family: to help them feel a part of their new community. 

  1. What has been the process so far to set up your group?  

Leah: The first step was to apply to CRSA, by collating information about ourselves: our background, interests, motivation, availability etc. This process helped us begin to gel as a group: at that stage, most of us had not met. The second step was doing the training, which presented challenging scenarios, designed to prompt discussion about how we might interact with a refugee family. These helped us to clarify shared beliefs and values, to decide roles and responsibilities, availability, and to sketch out a plan. We have very recently been matched with a family and are looking forward to working with them. 

Judy: The thoroughness of the application process inspired confidence. Each member of the group was required to have police and working with children checks. The training sessions prompted us to imagine ways we might assist a newly-arrived refugee family cope with the challenges of settling into a new culture. We were encouraged to think about roles and responsibilities and imagine the experience from the perspective of the family themselves, remaining mindful of the need to guide rather than direct.   

  1. We are living through difficult times. What draws you to indigo foundation and to this work to support newly arrived families?

Leah: We all know the psychological and practical value of forming good community connections. Some of us have a work history in international aid; some are longstanding donors to international aid organisations. Some have friends and family who arrived as refugees in the past (in kinder times) as well as more recently. Some have experienced living in communities with unfamiliar languages and customs. We may be living through difficult times but all in our group are comfortably able to look beyond our own needs, to offer friendship and support to people who need it. We are pleased to be taken under indigo’s umbrella. 

Judy: We each have a history of volunteer work and a commitment to social justice. indigo’s work and values make it well-suited to be our auspicing body. Getting to know a refugee family, learning their story and playing a role in their successful settlement, is a special privilege and one the Randwick group embraces.  We are looking forward to feeling connected and helping others to feel welcome.  It is a celebration of our diversity and the ways our community is strengthened through friendships and networks of support.