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Salvos set to offer new beginnings for new Australians


This Refugee Week, The Salvation Army has launched a partner project which aims to connect refugees with community members who then assist them to settle in Australia.

BY KIRRALEE NICOLLE

 

Supporting those entering Australia as refugees is missional love in action, a Salvation Army mission support leader says.

 

The comments come as The Salvation Army launches its New Beginnings Project, a partnership with a government pilot program that seeks to offer deeper community connections to refugees from their date of arrival in Australia.


The Community Refugee Integration and Settlement Pilot (CRISP) program is an initiative of both the Australian Government and Community Refugee Sponsorship Australia (CRSA).


The New Beginnings Project encourages corps members to participate in the program under both the CRSA and Salvation Army banners.


The program, which began in Canada, is now gaining traction across the world as an alternative to caseworker-driven settlement programs. Through CRISP, refugee households are instead assigned a Community Supporter Group (CSG) made up of five or more sponsors. This CSG then provides 12 months of practical, hands-on assistance in accessing temporary housing, support services, transport and social connections. CRSA workers offer support, training and approval to CSGs to best assist refugee household members.


The Salvation Army’s Refugees and People Seeking Asylum Lead, Cynthia Gunawan, said the benefit of getting involved in the CRISP program through the Salvos was that in addition to the current supports, participants would also have access to the wraparound support The Salvation Army offers, which include a range of social services such as material aid, life skills, employment range and also community connection and spiritual support.   


Cynthia said how Leviticus 19:34 in the Bible spoke about loving the foreigner, as the ancient Israelites were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.


“We have this privilege to welcome and love people who have experienced lots of difficult things in their life,” she said. “This is love in action, and this is actually what God wants us to do as Christians [and] as [followers] of Jesus.”


She said for corps and Salvos Supporter Groups who got involved, the project would give them the chance to learn about other cultures and experience the satisfaction of watching someone who initially felt out of their depth in terms of language, culture and sense of place flourish into a confident and independent person able to navigate life in Australia.


“It is a new beginning not just for the family, but also for the whole congregation,” she said. “It will really bless them in an immeasurable way.”


Cynthia said that while some might feel the prospect is daunting or too involved, there is plenty of support available.


“There’s lots of support from The Salvation Army and great resources from CRSA and also other community groups who have [sponsored] before,” she said. “This is actually very doable because it's a group effort.”


Cynthia said that as well as joining community supporter groups, there were many other ways to get involved in the New Beginnings Project. To find out more, contact Cynthia at intercultural@salvationarmy.or.au.



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