The RISE Advocacy team seeks to generate positive political and social change in respect to attitudes and policies impacting refugees and asylum seekers. We achieve this by engaging with various bodies to advocate for refugee and asylum seeker rights, advance appropriate refugee and asylum seeker policies and encourage balanced and accurate media coverage of refugee and asylum seeker issues.

Through this portfolio we advocate and consult on behalf of refugees and asylum seekers with the aim of improving the refugee settlement process and general national policies in dealing with refugees. RISE advocacy aims to represent of our members, interests by improving the following areas:

  • Refugee Welfare and Support System
  • Refugee Rights Policies
  • Social system impacting refugees
  • Marginalisation and disadvantages faced by refugees

By collating data from our community we assist and draw on the experiences of many of the RISE advocacy volunteers who were refugees themselves.  RISE advocacy aims to gain invaluable insight into how refugees have been impacted by the current refugee policies.  As part of this, RISE advocacy will conduct a survey of refugees in Melbourne. The survey aims to address the difficulties being encountered by the various refugee communities.

RISE advocacy will provide feedback from data obtained by our organisation to other community organisations and government departments to help change or improve policies. RISE advocacy hopes the findings and recommendations will help with refugee policy reform and also improve the overall settlement process.  As part of this project, RISE advocacy hopes to liaise with other like-minded organisations and work with them in developing a database of case-studies/policy documents and reports that can be used to influence governmental policy and decision making.  This process will aid in advocacy work being more effective.

Where appropriate, RISE advocacy will co-ordinate direct lobbying of politicians and presentation of submissions to Senate inquiries and committees, at a state and federal level as well as at the International level through bodies like the UN.  Drawing on RISE research and policy resources, RISE advocacy will seek out opportunities to work with other refugee organisations and independent governmental monitoring agencies at both a national and international level to present policy initiatives but also work alone when necessary. Through this project, we hope to further the outcomes stated above, through driving policy change, and lobbying for its adoption at the legislative level.

Self-empowerment is at the core of sustainable community development with economic opportunity and social mobility. Our experience has been that philanthropic organisations do not wish to face this reality and are reluctant to fund organisations with a strong focus on advocacy and meaningful social change. In the absence of a bill of rights in Australia, groups like asylum seekers and refugees, who literally face life and death situations if deported back to their country, do not have the legal safety net to prevent systemic discrimination, threats to safety, abuse and neglect. This makes advocacy an essential service for the community.

Currently refugee policy is shaped by public opinion which is easily manipulated by self-interested parties rather than the rule of law or proper expertise. With a predicted economic downturn, asylum seekers and refugees are particularly vulnerable to being pushed further into the margins. With the new government proposing more extreme anti-refugee policies such as sending boats back to Indonesia and cutting legal aid to asylum seekers, RISE sees an ever greater need to advocate for the interests of refugees and asylum seekers. Our organisation is uniquely placed to advocate for sustainable change from within the refugee and asylum seeker community.

Unique aspects

RISE advocacy is directly driven and informed by those of refugee, ex-detainee and asylum seeker backgrounds. We have staff and members who have personal experiences as refugees, asylum seekers and ex-detainees. As such, RISE advocacy is strongly committed to ensuring that the work is deeply rooted at a grassroots level.