Governments meet twice each year to discuss the state of play in resettlement in Working Groups in Geneva. In February this year, a Working Group was organised in Melbourne, Australia, allowing participants to learn how reception and integration programmes are delivered in Australia. Representatives from governments, international organisations and NGOs from across the world participated in a rich and inspiring programme of field visits - to NGOs, refugee community groups, schools and a radio station - exchanged good practice, and shared the lessons learned during plenary session discussions.
We asked some of the representatives from EU countries to share their impressions:
“I was particularly impressed by the leadership of the Young people from the Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY) during our site visit to Dandenong, Victoria. The young people we met had all been resettled from Refugee Camps, and had lived in Australia for between 15 and 2 years. They spoke of their shared experiences stemming from the lack of information available to them pre-departure, as the majority of the cultural orientation had been delivered to their parents, along with the challenge of wanting to integrate and take on board many more aspects of Australian culture than their parents were perhaps comfortable with, which could often lead to inter-generational conflict. Despite these challenges the young people had formed their own support group and demonstrated a remarkable level of confidence, ambition and a willingness to embrace every opportunity open to them. I came away feeling incredibly inspired by each and every one of them.”
Andy Hewett, British Red Cross
"The initiative that drew my attention the most was the Stepping Stones Program, hosted by the Brotherhood of St Laurence. One of the reasons is that we, the Bulgarian Red Cross, are implementing similar programs aiming to support refugee initiative and self reliance. I liked the core component of this program - to assist the inclusion of refugee and migrant women in small business, where they could develop their skills and earn for the family. Such an initiative shows integration in action and positions them in society as an equal and reliable citizen of the host country."
Dr Nadezhda Todorovska, Bulgarian Red Cross
“I was impressed with the Victoria Arab Social Services VASS, as they have gone beyond the logic of organising into refugee community groups serving only a small and limited constituency. Instead, VASS regrouped all ethnic and religious groups coming from 22 Arab countries into one organisation. The organisation is successfully implementing projects of social integration and welfare for a diverse constituency and has become an important partner for Federal, regional and local government and it plays an important role in shifting the patterns of discussion on young Australian of Arab background in media and the public.”
Torsten Moritz, Christian Churches for Migrants in Europe
“One of the most interesting approaches I saw in Melbourne, was the high rate of employment of former resettled refugees by the service providers engaged in the support of the settlement of refugees. The advantages of this concept could clearly be seen e.g. in the context of the so-called community guides, who help refugees to take the first steps in their new environment. The motivation of community guides or other employees with refugee background appears to be very high as they want to pay back what they have also received.”
Christian Klos, Immigration Law Unit Germany