Brisbane parishes, schools and Church agencies urged to sponsor refugee family in new outreach initiative – The Catholic Leader

The Brisbane EVANGELISM Inclusion Team has issued invitations to parishes in the Archdiocese of Brisbane, school communities and Church agencies to host and sponsor refugee families as part of a new initiative launched in partnership with Community Refugee Sponsorship Australia.

In a letter inviting parishes to take part in the scheme, Archbishop of Brisbane Mark Coleridge said the scheme was “an opportunity for us to reach beyond the boundaries of our own community in the spirit of mission”.

“This will in turn strengthen our own communities, because we will only be strengthened if we look outward rather than inward,” he said.

Two programs were available for parishes, schools, and Church agencies – the Group Mentoring Program and the Community Integration and Settlement of Refugees Pilot Project.

Melinda Zakikhani, Inclusion Project Manager, said the group mentorship program was born out of the needs of families and refugees who arrived in 2019 and early 2020.

She said these families have found it more difficult to settle in Australia due to the impact of the pandemic.

This program had a fundraising commitment of less than $4,000, depending on household needs.

Households participating in this program often had a specific need and “would likely benefit from a stronger community support network”, Ms Zakikhani said.

“Parishioners might find themselves practicing English with a family member or helping one of the parents find employment opportunities,” she said.

The other program, the Community Refugee Integration and Settlement Pilot, was designed for groups to raise funds and build social networks to host a household of refugees who had been granted a humanitarian visa but were still awaiting arrival in Australia.

The financial commitment for this program ranged from $7,000 to $21,000, depending on household size.

“The parish sponsorship groups are committed to fully supporting arriving refugees, from their arrival at the airport until 12 months after their arrival,” Ms Zakikhani said.

“Parish community groups will help refugee families register with Medicare, Centrelink, open bank accounts, etc.

“They will provide the family with food and income until the family starts receiving financial support and government assistance.

“They will ensure that the refugee household has accommodation when they arrive in Australia and then help them access sustainable accommodation.

“It is not the role of the parish community group to pay for the family to live for the 12 months.”

The Evangelization Brisbane Inclusion Team aimed to integrate two to three pilot parishes or faith community groups over the next six months.

“What I hope we can encourage through this initiative is not only a practical response to the growing crisis, but also a deeper understanding of other human experiences and a deeper capacity for internal and external relationships. to our own parish communities,” Ms Zakikhani said.

“This initiative will aim to meet the physical and material needs of refugee households in our communities, but more importantly, it aims to meet social and community needs.

“The real key to this initiative is that a parish community comes together for the important reason of welcoming and helping a newly arrived family build a new home.

“What we can all know from our own experience is that the hard things get a little easier when you’re not alone.”

To find out more about the Brisbane Archdiocese Refugee Sponsorship Initiative, go to www.aobrefugeesponsorship.com.au

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