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01 May 2023

News

International engagement at a time of global disruption

From the CEO: International engagement at a time of global disruption

The world we live in today has greater connection between countries, cultures, and economies than our parents or grandparents could have ever imagined. This has led to greater mobility, but so too has it created disruptive migration trends such as the record levels of forced displacement due to conflicts and persecution.

Refugee resettlement providers must not only focus on providing essential services to refugees but also prioritise engaging in international dialogue and participating in forums that bring together organisations from around the world to share knowledge, experiences and best practices, as well as to advocate for the rights of refugees globally.

SSI is a regular participant at forums, such as the UNHR NGO Consultations, so it was a great honour last month to be able to play our part locally in hosting UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, on his trip to Australia.

During a visit to SSI’s new Fairfield office, we had the opportunity to elevate the experience of people who come to Australia as refugees, opening the door to a greater understanding of settlement in Australia and the experiences of those who come to our shores seeking safety.

The following week, our Fairfield office was once again honoured to play host to our international colleagues, this time holding a forum for Amnesty International Secretary General Dr. Agnes Callamard to hear from people with lived experience.

Whether working internationally or on a local level, SSI places a big emphasis on ensuring our work is both driven and informed by people with lived experience

We employ over 1,000 staff – more than half of whom were born outside of Australia. Many of these staff also have experiences of forced displacement, and it was wonderful to add their voices to the forum, sharing their nuanced experiences as people who have both been refugees and now support refugees.

SSI delivers local services, but we are committed to contributing to the sector globally through policy, advocacy, capacity building and the development of strong partnerships internationally.

Last week, I was privileged to speak at the Metropolis International Seminar at Georgetown University in Washington about the evolution of migration in the post-pandemic world and the lasting legal, political, and social implications of “temporariness” in all its forms.

It was fascinating to share insights of SSI’s experience in this area, while also hearing from other countries – and particularly relevant given last week’s announcement from the Federal Government on a big shift towards a more permanent-focused migration program in Australia.

As I absorbed information over the two-day seminar, it struck me again the value of collaboration between those of us in the migration space – whether refugees or others – to share resources, knowledge and expertise.

Through collaboration with international bodies such as Amnesty International, we have advocated to bring innovative initiatives to Australia, such as the Community Sponsorship Program.

Working with our international colleagues at the UNHCR NGO Consultations, we have identified challenges and barriers that refugees face in their new host countries. We have been able to advocate for better policies and support, and share experiences and best practices to improve resettlement outcomes for refugees.

Refugee issues are not limited to one country or region – they are a global concern – and require all of us to work collaboratively to shift the dial.

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