People are displacement from their homes due to violence, war, natural disaster, or lack of food. Currently, the number of emigrants worldwide is greater than 65 million. Yearly, less than 1% of the refugees find security and settlement. Annual, refugee quota in Australia is approximately 20, 000 individuals (Refugees, Survivors, & Ex-detainees, 2018). This paper focuses on two local organizations; Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) and Refugees, Survivors, and Ex-detainees (RISE).
ASR Centre was formed in 2001 by Kon Karapanagiotidis and its headquartered in Footscray.
It offers support to asylum seekers by offering health care, education, legal support, aid, general support services, and empowerment programs (Asylum Seekers Resource Centre, 2013).
There are over 1000 asylum seekers in Australia. They normally live in the community searching for refugee protection. ASRC aims to uphold their rights and also offer them required support and opportunity so that they can live independently. ASRC team involves volunteer individuals and paid staff. They rely on aids and do not receive any funding from the federal government (Asylum Seekers Resource Centre, 2013).
Refugees, Survivors, and Ex-detainees (RISE)
RISE was formed in March 2010 by refugees, asylum seekers as well as ex-detainees. It is concerned with their welfare and seeks to offer protection (Riserefugee, 2019). It campaigns for their rights, offers advice, and also engages in community development. It has so far supported over 2600 members. It’s a voluntary social worker organization that relies on philanthropy and community donations for its funding (Refugees, Survivors, & Ex-detainees, 2018). It is involved mainly in Advocacy Program where it represents its members in making governmental or non-governmental policies as they seek to bring positive social change in the community.
ASRC offers several programs such as counselling, psychiatry, and primary care programs. These are offered at micro-level. They give first priority to individuals without Medicare (Asylum Seekers Resource Centre, 2013). It promotes their health through extensive foodbank and housing programs (micro-level). Additionally, through its education (mezzo-level) and legal programs (macro-level), it ensures a supportive and holistic service delivery (Duman & Snoubar, 2017).
Usually, the asylum seekers suffer from mental health issues due to trauma and various challenges. These leads to high psychological morbidity, psychotic illnesses, and suicidal ideation (Coffey et al., 2010). The disorders are facilitated by the anxiety on the status of the visa or repatriation, poor access to services, social isolation, unemployment, housing instability, and concern of their fellow family members back home. Therefore, ASRC seeks to offer primary health care services in order to prevent illness and promote a heath lifestyle (Hadgkiss et al., 2012). They also offer a counseling program (pro-bobo counselling service) that are aimed at maximizing physical and psychological wellbeing (Hadgkiss, & Renzaho, 2014). These programs are offered at micro-level where they tackle individual problem.
Asylum seekers also experience food insecurity due to lack of employment and financial constraints (McKay & Dunn, 2015). Lack of food translates to poor health. Poor nutrition is associated with high incidences of sickness and mortality rates (Victorian Government initiative, 2009). As such, the ASRC runs a program on Foodbank and Community Meals that provides food to more than 800 asylum seekers every week at micro-level. They also offer material aid that enables families to reconstruct their lives. Moreover, they empower people through education and training to be able to learn English and develop important skills that can be useful in employment pathways. For instance, the LEEP program offers internships for those that are pursuing to enhance their skills in program evaluation (Asylum Seekers Resource Centre, 2013). This program is offered at mezzo-level where they train as groups and receive mentorship and professional development courses.
On the other hand, RISE programs include advocacy programs that airs their grievances at macro-level. They fight for the refugees’ policies, sidelining and shortcomings of the refugees, and they have welfare support system (Riserefugee, 2019). Just like the ASRC, they offer materials to families such as homewares and furniture to start new life at micro-levels. Also, they facilitate resume clinic and employment pathways through effective training at mezzo levels, that offers opportunities for securing a job.
Through their programs, these groups can be able to improve their overall health. They also have Food Bank services just like the ASRC which have been operational since 2011. Hunger and food security are major issues affecting the refugees (McKay et al., 2018). As such, much help from every quarter would greatly help elevate this problem. RISE offers free access to dry foods, vegetables, and fruits to its members at micro-level. Just like ASRC, they also rely on donations from well-wishers. They have a drop-in center where people can drop their donated items. Contrary to ASRC, RISE has music & art project offered at mezzo-level, and is intended to minimizing social isolation. They usually suffer from psychological issues due to challenges of integration and identity (Burchett & Matheson, 2010). As a result, they become depressed hence develop negative morals. To prevent this, RISE ensures the refugees participate in the wider society by taking part in community festivals and events.
A SWOT analysis involves identifying organization strengths, threats, weaknesses, and opportunities.
ASRC boasts of being a multiculturalist organization disseminating services to all asylum seekers without favoritism. ASRC works without fear or favor and does not discriminates whether on sexuality, health, religion, gender, or race (Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, 2018). Also, it draws its strength by the fact that it is an independent agency that does not receive aid from the government. This means that the Australian government does not have control over its operations. Therefore, it is able to fulfill its obligations without governmental restrictions. Additionally, it provides more than 20 direct aid as well as advocacy programs. Its organizational structure involves 5 pillars; aid, sustainability, community, empowerment, and justice. They are key in effective service delivery. Finally, ASRC links with some other groups such as Save the Children and also Amnesty International in service delivery (Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, 2018). Partnering with these organizations, reinforces the operations of ASRC.
ASRC faces some threats such as challenge of having enough donations. Due to increase in number of refugees every day, the organization is at a risk of receiving more members. Also, setting of arbitrary deadlines by the government for those seeking for asylum, possess a threat to the organization (Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, 2018). Although, ASRC offers legal amenities, the asylum workers live in fear of being expatriated. The government policies risks forcing refugees to lodge their claims without proper legal assistance. Moreover, it faces a challenge on how to protect unaccompanied kids and teenagers looking for asylum since they face risk of exploitation (Jensen et al., 2015).
However, ASRC has instituted frameworks through which it engages in several campaign to request for donations from well-wishers. It also educates the community and government on the necessity of respecting the rights of refugees.
RISE drives its strength from the fact that it is the only organization in Australia governed exclusively by ex-detainees, asylum seekers, and refugees (Refugees, Survivors, & Ex-detainees, 2018). They understand the challenges they go through so well, hence they can offer proper representation. Furthermore, they offer several programs that are aimed at improving the lives and stay of refugees in Australia. For instance, music & arts program, assists them to feel part of the larger community through interactions in events and festivals. RISE as well does not accept government funding nor does it run campaigns with support from donors or philanthropists (Refugees, Survivors, & Ex-detainees, 2018). They use their personal funds to run global and nationwide rights campaigns for the refugees and other publications. This ensues information reach several people.
RISE faces risk of inadequate funding. In fact, currently, they are not admitting any new applicants due to limited funding. This affects the organization significantly since the projects cannot run smoothly due to financial constraints (McKay et al., 2018). Also, inadequate English language skills by the refugees limits the integration as well as settlement process. Introduction and execution of unfavorable and xenophobic disclosures and policies targeting refuges, asylum seekers, and ex-detainees, also is an enormous challenge for RISE (Riserefugee, 2019).
RISE has set strategies through which it can engage with the government and persuade it to perform a comprehensive review concerning societal support for refugees, ex-detainees, and asylum seekers. Similarly, if it can persuade the government to fund projects and permit refugees to access mainstream health care services, then it can ease some of these challenges faced by refugees in Australia.
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