Saturday 27th February 2021
Sanctuary Northern Rivers: Working for refugees worldwide.

It is with much gratitude that we recognize the contribution of Sanctuary’s founding president Doctor Michael Douglas, as he retired from this significant role at last year’s Annual General Meeting. During this tenure commencing in late 2003, Sanctuary has helped approximately 200 people with resettlement into the Australian community, many of those into the Northern Rivers area, and Michael has played a vital role in that work.

With Emmanual Musoni of GLAPDI (Great Lakes Agency for Peace and Development) we have explored the possibilities of encouraging urban based resettled community members who desire a rural and agricultural life, taking up seasonal work in Blueberry picking in Tabulam. Emmanuel has previously facilitated others to make similar moves eg in Mingoola, west of Tenterfield. There are opportunities available for work with each picking season, but the seasonal nature of that work does present a barrier for people to commit to such a move. It may work for some.

Sanctuary was able to support one young person to gain driving experience, through access to the Sanctuary car and also sponsoring some driving lessons. This led to the person gaining a license, which was essential for that person’s employment. A cause for celebration.

As there was little ongoing need for the Sanctuary car, and as the car was getting older but still in reasonable condition, the board decided to donate this car to a member of our Sanctuary community who had need, and in line with the intentions of the original donor of that vehicle.

Sanctuary also supported the second African Festival, with administration assistance as well as providing volunteer help on the day. Several of the resettled community helped with cooking and serving and a number of the young people were involved through a fashion parade and dancing. The purpose of the festival was to share and celebrate African culture with the local community and to encourage the youth in the African community.

As the African festival represents of a broader section of the African community than those who were previously refugees, Sanctuary has decided to no longer administer the funds and structure around this festival, whilst still staying relationally connected to the event. This decision is so that we remain clearly compliant with our association aims and objectives.

We were approached by several Australians who have a relationship in common with a refugee currently waiting in Indonesia. This is a person we have previously raised funds for and supported with educational advancement in Indonesia. The approach was to support fundraising efforts for a Community Sponsored Visa application for resettlement of this person in Canada. We successfully raised the funds needed for that person, and have forwarded the funds raised to the NGO supporting his application in Canada.

Community Sponsorship of refugees is a worldwide phenonmenon, and the success of the "Canadian model" has inspired some to help establish a similar model here in Australia. We plan to discuss this further following tonight's AGM. For various reasons, our previous activity with Community Settlement has almost come to standstill, so if a model such as this occurs in Australia, this may be an opportunity for Sanctuary to refocus our energy.

It was my pleasure to attend 3 weddings at the end of 2019 for people who we have supported with loans for visa applications.

- Ian Phillips
President, Sanctuary NR inc


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