Today is World Refugee Day, an international day to highlight the issues facing refugees and celebrate the resilience, achievements and positive contributions made by refugees all over the world. The theme of this year’s event is #withrefugees which aims to create a movement of people pledging to support and stand with refugees and people seeking asylum.
Bank Australia has been working with Human Rights Watch since 2016 to support their work addressing human rights issues in Australia and internationally. This World Refugee Day we’re pleased to build on this partnership by providing ongoing funding for Human Right Watch’s refugee research program through the Bank Australia Impact Fund.
According to UNHCR*, every minute 20 people leave their homes to flee war, persecution or terror. In 2018, there are more displaced people in the world than any time in history with an estimated 65.6 million people forced from their homes. There are also 10 million stateless people who have no access to basic rights such as healthcare and freedom of movement.
In 2016, Bank Australia customers highlighted - through the bank’s customer values survey - that they would like to see us take more action to support and provide a humane response to the refugee crisis. In response to this, we have taken a number of actions:
- We’ve established and continued to grow our partnership with the Brotherhood of St Laurence, supporting the Given the Chance program, which has now placed 8 people from a refugee or asylum seeker background into intern or traineeship positions at Bank Australia.
- We’ve added ‘refugees and people seeking asylum’ as a priority funding area within the Bank Australia Impact Fund Customer Grants program. In 2017 we provided a a $10 000 grant to Scarf, a social enterprise employing people experiencing disadvantage to develop hospitality skills, including those from a refugee background.
- We’ve supported Human Rights Watch’s annual Voices for Justice events and the Sydney Human Rights Day event in December 2017.
Our support of the refugee research program will help Human Rights Watch staff to defend the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and displaced people worldwide. These staff respond to emergencies and chronic situations, documenting human rights issues and taking their findings directly to policy-makers, legislators and the media.