Academic journal article Refuge

Australia's Private Refugee Sponsorship Program: Creating Complementary Pathways or Privatizing Humanitarianism?

Academic journal article Refuge

Australia's Private Refugee Sponsorship Program: Creating Complementary Pathways or Privatizing Humanitarianism?

Article excerpt


This article provides the first history and critique of Australia's private refugee sponsorship program, the Community Support Program (CSP). As more countries turn to community sponsorship of refugees as a means to fill the "resettlement gap," Australia's model provides a cautionary tale. The CSP, introduced in 2017, does not expand Australia's overall resettlement commitment but instead takes places from within the existing humanitarian resettlement program. The Australian program charges sponsors exorbitant application fees, while simultaneously prioritizing refugees who are "job ready," with English-language skills and ability to integrate quickly, undermining the principle of resettling the most vulnerable. As such, we argue that the CSP hijacks places from within Australia's humanitarian program and represents a market-driven outsourcing and privatization of Australia's refugee resettlement priorities and commitments.


Cet article offre la premiere histoire et critique du pro gramme de parrainage prive des refugies en Australie, le Community Support Program (CSP). Alors que de plus en plus de pays se tournent vers le parrainage communautair pour combler les besoins en matiere de reinstallation, le modele australien tient lieu de mise en garde. Le CSP, introduit en 2017, n'etend pas les engagements de l'Australie et matiere de reinstallation, mais accapare des places au seil du programme humanitaire de reinstallation deja existent. Le programme australien impose aux parrains des frais de demande exorbitants tout en donnant la priorite aux refugies qui sont prets a occuper un emploi, qui ont des competences linguistiques en anglais et qui sont capables de s'integrer rapidement, minant ainsi le principe de reinstallation des plus vulnerables. Nous soutenons que le CSP detourne des places du programme humanitaire australien et represente une sous-traitance axee sur le marche ains qu'une privatisation des priorites et engagements de l'Autralie en matiere de reinstallation.


At a time when the global gap between refugee resettlement needs and resettlement places made available by governments is widening, countries around the world are increasingly looking to community sponsorship to expand and supplement their refugee resettlement. In September 2016 a meeting of un General Assembly states resulted in the New York Declaration of Refugees and Migrants, wherein member states agreed to negotiate a Global Compact on Refugees in order to strengthen the international refugee regimes response to large refugee movements. The resulting final draft of the Global Compact on Refugees calls upon states "to establish private or community sponsorship programs that are additional to regular resettlement" in order to provide timely access to durable solutions for refugees. (1) Following from the New York Declaration, a number of states are experimenting with community sponsorship programs, following in the footsteps of Canada's long-running program, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Argentin, and some in the European Union.

In the lead-up to the New York Declaration, Australia confirmed its intentions to join this list and implement a permanent community sponsorship program. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that "in addition to our existing programs, Australia will ... create new pathways for refugees to resettle in Australia through the establishment of 1000 places under a Community Support Programme, where communities and businesses can sponsor applications and support new arrivals." (2)

This article provides the first detailed overview of Australia's historical and current approaches to community sponsorship. In particular, it addresses the current Community Support Program (CSP), which formally began in late 2017, and the Community Proposal Pilot (CPP), which began in 2013 and preceded the CSP. As well, it traces Australia's prior experimentation in this policy area, namely the Community Refugee Settlement Scheme (CRSS), which ran for almost twenty years from 1979 to 1997. …

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