Eighty-two signatories have endorsed an open pledge to support an affordable, inclusive community refugee sponsorship program in Australia, launched by SSI and 65 other community groups prior to the first-ever Global Refugee Forum (GRF), hosted by UNHCR in Geneva in December 2019.
SSI's international program and Global Refugee Forum (GRF) delegates with UN High Commissioner for UNHCR, Filippo Grandi.
SSI was represented by its international program at the GRF, which came at the end of a tumultuous decade and served as a direct response to the unprecedented rise in the number of refugees displaced worldwide, now over 25 million people.
The occasion was ripe for the international community to advance the objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees by mobilising political will, broadening the base of support, and implementing arrangements that facilitate more equitable, sustained, and predictable responsibility-sharing.
SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis said Australia could build a community refugee sponsorship model based on Canada's scheme.
“We’re urging others to join and endorse the pledge to help get a new community refugee sponsorship scheme up and running,” Ms Roumeliotis said.
“Imagine how proud Australia could be if we showcased an inclusive and affordable model at the next Global Refugee Forum in 2023.”
The GRF received a total of 840 pledges made by stakeholders across government, private and civil society, and served as a collective effort to respond to the needs of refugees and the communities that host them.
SSI submitted pledges in the areas of Solutions and Jobs and Livelihoods, including a joint pledge with the Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative (CRSI) to continue to establish a community refugee sponsorship scheme in Australia.
SSI International Policy and Project Officer Carmen Ghaly said that SSI pledged to continue to develop partnerships with the private sector and create employment pathways through training and cadetship programs for refugees in Australia and globally.
“We attended various side events of the GRF, including a Refugee Self-Reliance Initiative event hosted by Ben and Jerry’s to build new partnerships with the private sector and learn from global practice.”
Through a marketplace stall that was run in partnership with Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network (MYAN), International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the University of Virginia, SSI shared its local practices to a global audience, focusing on successful SSI-led community engagement initiatives, including the New Beginnings Festival and the Community Innovation Fund (CIF).
Accelerating refugee participation was a key driver of the GRF, with 70 refugees participating from 52 countries.
SSI supported the development and launch of the Refugee Participation Guidelines at the Forum and co-signed the Asia Pacific Network of Refugees (APNOR) pledge on refugee engagement with the governments of Australia, Canada, Denmark and the Netherlands.
SSI Gender Advocate and Policy Influencer Najeeba Wazefadost said that the joint pledge sought to formalise refugee inclusion across sectors.
“This is our strategy, to encourage inclusion from the inside out; we want a participation revolution, and a human-centred design approach to refugee policymaking,” Ms Wazefadost said.
“Without a space for these stories and our voices, no policy discussions will be as meaningful and effective as refugees need them to be.”