2018 AGM Update

Below is an excerpt of the Chairperson’s Report for the 2018 Circle of Friends Australia AGM which illustrates the range of work being done by our circles.

Circle of Friends Australia members at the 2018 AGM

This year the committee has been busy following through on many projects started in previous years.

Partnership with Adelaide University
In 2017 we began working with Adelaide University and Nina from their Education Department spoke at our last AGM. Nina has found students to give English and other tutoring to refugees who have been referred to us by STTARS. The relationship has expanded and we are working to support more students on Adelaide University Refugee Scholarships with both financial support and accommodation in our members homes. The process to expand this accommodation scheme continues as we have to protect both the hosts and the students as they share a home through our system.

Membership of Coalitions
COFA has joined in supporting nationwide actions. We are members of:

  • Justice for Refugees and joined them in their Palm Sunday rally and in their Collaborative Advocacy Forum. The priority areas identified for campaigning were:

  • End off shore detention

  • replace temporary protection visas with permanent visas

  • repeal cuts to SRSS, Status Resolution Support Services which provide income and case management for asylum seekers

  • Refugee Council of Australia

  • End Child Detention Coalition

  • Australian Refugee Action Network

We also work alongside other groups

  • Rural Australians for Refugees

  • Fleurieu Refugee Support Group

  • Vigil for refugees on Manus and Nauru on Friday nights on steps of Parliament House

Collaboration
We also collaborate closely with local service providers:

  • STTARS – Surviviors of Torture and Trauma Assistance and Rehabilitation Services

  • Red Cross

  • ARA – Australian Refugee Association

We back them up in their face to face work with our Circles providing finances,visitors, driving practice, English tutoring, furniture and household goods, accommodation, emergency assistance, food and many other needs.

STTARS recently invited us to afternoon tea to thank us for our support of the people they work with. We were given a beautiful afternoon of many conversations, a thank you song in 8 languages by the specially formed STTARS choir, and a multicultural feast.

Great work of the Circles
The Circles continue to do amazing work as we will hear from the Circles reports. The great work of the individual groups adds up to extensive support for many vulnerable asylum seekers and refugees. I especially want to mention Circle of Friends 110 Rapid Response team. They were set up to get requests for emergency and settlement support first and then ask other Circles to help when they couldn’t meet the need. Many Circles contribute financially to their funds as they do not do fundraising themselves, they are too busy providing assistance. Circle 110 assists people in very difficult situations by paying bills for things like rent, electricity, food, medicine and more, and by visiting people in their homes and following through on requests. They need more members to join them.

Thank You
First I’d like to thank the Effective Living Centre and Christ Church for the use of their meeting rooms for our meetings. They are generous hosts.

Thanks to all the generous donors and all the people who have organised, attended or contributed the many fundraising events that all the Circles hold.

Thanks to the businesses who have donated goods and services to our Circles for fundraising.

Thank you to the committee for all their work over the year for COFA. Special thanks to Bruce for his treasury work so that we all know know how much we have to spend and his prompt payments when we send our requests. Also thanks to John for all his secretarial work and to Denise, Lesley and Margaret as committee members on top of the work they do in their own Circles.

The biggest thank you goes to the Circle members with their amazing combined energy to give personal attention to asylum seekers and refugees and ease their way into living in this country.

Contact us if you would like to be involved in the the work we do. Everyone’s support is welcome!