Parishes, schools and agencies

How the Melbourne Diocese is helping asylum seekers

Anglican agencies and parishes in Melbourne and Geelong are working in a range of ways to support refugees and asylum seekers. Here is a sample.

March 22 2016Anglicare Victoria provides safe housing for 65 refugee families in the community, and supports unaccompanied asylum seekers aged under 18 who are waiting for their visa application to be processed. Anglicare assists with cooking, cleaning, transport, shopping, education and healthcare, and helps these young people to integrate into the broader community through school, social networks, community groups and recreational activities.

The Brotherhood of St Laurence offers skills training and work placement for refugees through its Given the Chance program. Up to 60 businesses, from Woolworths to neighbourhood coffee shops, have participated, and some 230 asylum seekers have already found employment since the service was launched in July 2013.

The Ecumenical Migration Centre has been helping vulnerable migrants and refugees in Australia for more than half a century. The Brotherhood is also active in the policy and advocacy spaces.

The Brotherhood supports monthly social excursions for asylum seekers living in Melbourne’s northern suburbs. Aimed at combating social isolation, these activities have included attending an AFL game and country day trips.

“Before I moved to Australia, I had no idea about interview skills or job-searching skills,” said Abdullahi, a 27-year-old asylum seeker from Somalia, a country in east Africa. He credits the Brotherhood of St Laurence and a partner agency, Wear for Success – which supplied him with work clothing – with helping him to secure his first job in Australia.

St Paul’s Cathedral reaches more than 6000 refugees and migrants a year through its English as a Second Language Program.

St Alban the Martyr, St Albans, supports refugees through a partnership project with Anglicare, distributing food packages, whitegoods and furniture.

Karen refugees run a community garden at St Thomas’ Werribee.

Bishop Peter Danaher from All Saints Newtown is part of the Combined Refugee and Asylum Group Geelong, which meets monthly and holds rallies, writes letters, develops petitions and holds vigils at the offices of two local MPs. The group also collects food donations.

Corio-Norlane parish runs a homework club, with students from Geelong Grammar School and Kardinia College volunteering their time. The parish also distributes clothing and furniture donated by parishes in the Geelong area.

Werribee parish runs an English conversation class. This free program is aimed particularly at Karen, Sri Lankan and Middle Eastern refugees. The parish also plans to start a community playgroup which will particularly focus on people with low English skills.

Parishioners from St Matthew’s Glenroy accompany asylum seekers from the parish and local area to interviews with the Department of Immigration, and provide character references when the asylum seeker is known to the parish and has become part of the worshipping community. The parish also provides English classes and assistance with filling out forms.

Gisborne parish launched a refugee support group in late 2015. In addition to financial support for refugees, it has organised a visit to the Broadmeadows detention centre, a day trip for refugee women hosted by a country parish, and political advocacy.

St Mary’s Anglican and St Andrew’s Uniting churches, Sunbury, held a weekend-long event in November 2015 to welcome asylum seekers. The weekend included a bush dance and dinner on the Saturday night, and a picnic on Sunday.

Christ Church Melton has a Sudanese congregation with its own lay leadership and an elected worship and pastoral leader. Sudanese parishioners teach their young people Dinka song and dance, and also Sunday School. Combined services are held throughout the year on special occasions.

Tell us what your parish or Anglican organisation is doing to help refugees and asylum seekers. Email