Greens councillor Brent Hoare successfully moved a motion at Tuesday night’s Blue Mountains City Council that will see council write to Federal Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, calling on him to make it easier for communities to sponsor refugees to come to Australia.

Community sponsorship is a model where ordinary members of the community – often through church, sporting and community groups –  sponsor visas for refugees from around the world, who wish to begin the process of rebuilding their lives in Australia.

The community sponsorship model has worked successfully for almost 40 years in Canada, which has welcomed over 280,000 refugees through the program, in addition to its humanitarian intake.

In contrast, Australia’s community sponsorship program is capped at only 1,000 places, and each time one of these is allocated, a place is lost out of the 13,500 in the overall humanitarian program. It is also prohibitively expensive to participate in the programme.

Councillor Brent Hoare said:
We live in a world where people have no option but to flee their homes and countries, and that globally, resettlement places for these people are rare and over-subscribed. We need to create more opportunities for safe and legal entry into Australia, and one way to do this is through community led sponsorship.

“”The government’s Community Sponsorship Programme needs to be fairer and more just. Communities want to sponsor refugees to come to Australia, but the current program is very expensive and takes places away from the broader humanitarian intake. 

Councillor Hoare’s motion called for a Community Sponsorship Programme that: 

  1. a) Does not take places from others in need;
  2. b) Provides adequate support and services;
  3. c) Limits the costs on sponsors;
  4. d) Allows community, family and businesses to act as sponsors; and
  5. e) Creates more places for people in need of protection to settle in Australia.

The motion was passed unanimously by Council. 

42 other councils across Australia have called for a fairer and more just Community Sponsorship Programme as part of Amnesty International Australia’s #MyNewNeighbour campaign. 

Councillor Hoare is also encouraging Blue Mountains residents to sign the #MyNewNeighbour petition: