Sanctuary Australia Foundation set up a ‘revolving’ travel loan fund in 1996 for refugees who are accepted by the Australian Government under the Special Humanitarian 202 Visa Program.
Unlike other classes of visa, such as the 200 visas, the 202 visa holders receive no assistance with their travel to Australia. After waiting for years, going through interviews, medicals, etc, many refugees who finally receive Visa approval lose their only chance for a hopeful future because they can’t fund their travel to Australia! As one Sanctuary worker put it, “It’s like winning the lotto and not having the bus fare to collect it.”
When we agree to help with an interest-free airfare loan, and the visa is finally approved, we go ahead and make travel arrangements for the refugee family, through the International Organisation for Migration (I.O.M) office, and liaise with DIAC (the Department of Immigration and Citizenship) overseas on their behalf.
“The Sanctuary Australia Foundation is a community-based organisation that receives no Government funding and provides valuable services to refugees seeking to resettle to Australia. This type of work is rare and incredibly important in the broader context of refugee protection and resettlement support in Australia.”
Steph Cousins, Acting Humanitarian Advocacy Coordinator, Oxfam Australia, 2008
Once settled, each family gradually repays their interest-free airfare loan back (over two or more years) into the fund and the money is then ‘recycled’ to assist the next needy refugee family.
Sanctuary provides assistance with settlement needs as they arise.