National Refugee Week: June 18-24, 2023

Refugee Week is an annual celebration, informing the public about refugees and celebrating their contributions. The 2023 theme is Finding Freedom.

Supporting Refugees in finding freedom

A group of Star of the Sea parishioners from South West Coast Parish are on a path to sponsor a refugee household to come to Australia, as part of the four-year Community Refugee Integration and Settlement Pilot (CRISP), run by Community Refugee Sponsorship Australia (CRSA), in conjunction with the Department of Home Affairs and the UNHCR.

The Star of the Sea Parish CRISP group have undertaken the required background checks, training and are fundraising to enable the provision of initial housing and essentials prior to the household accessing government support and seeking employment.

The group have been matched with a refugee household by CRSA. The family of five, originally from Iraq, will be flown to Australia and come to Warrnambool with permanent humanitarian visas. We will meet them at the airport, provide transport to Warrnambool and then twelve months of support as they transition to independence. This will include linking with government services, language assistance and looking at education and employment options.

CRISP is an innovation in refugee resettlement in Australia and we are excited to be part of it. When only one percent of displaced people globally is permanently resettled each year (UNHCR figures), we are proud to be taking our small part in giving a future to even one household for the first twelve months of their life in Australia.

The response from our parish community to participating in CRISP has been overwhelmingly supportive. We are over half way to our fundraising goal. The parish has agreed to rent a currently vacant presbytery to the family for their initial twelve months. A group of parishioners showed up to assist in a ‘spring clean’ of the presbytery. The majority of the furniture for the presbytery has been provided and moved free of charge. We live in a generous community. We await their arrival date in nervous anticipation!

Tax deductible donations to support the CRISP fundraising can be made via

More information about CRISP is available on the CRSA website

Coordinators of the Star of the Sea Parish Community Supporter Group are Katherine Stewart (0459 615 564) and Ann Barker (0427 728 333). Give us a call if you want to talk about creating a CRISP team in your parish!


Mercy Connect

Mercy Connect, a program of Mercy Works, is for students who are asylum seekers and refugees adjusting to a whole new life in Australia and facing many challenges.

The program recruits, trains and supports volunteer mentors and supports students and adults in Victoria, Western Australia and NSW but the Program Manager lives locally in Ballarat.

Mercy Connect volunteers offer mentoring to students as they settle into the Australian school and education system.  They provide support that nurtures well-being and self-esteem and improves their literacy and numeracy skills as they adapt to school, classrooms and the community.

Our volunteers come from many walks of life – quite a few have a background in school education with many being ex-teachers.

We have engineers, nurses, company directors, a pilot, doctors, lawyers and even a psychologist all offering care and support to refugee students and adults in schools and community hubs.

Volunteer mentors offer expertise, compassion, kindness and life experience and range from university students to retirees.

The program also supports parents and mature age students through adult classes providing them with the opportunity to improve their spoken and written English. Typically volunteers work in school, offering support in literacy and numeracy – and sometimes life skills – for one morning per week.

Our biggest cohort of twelve students is at Mount Clear College and locally and in Melbourne we do need more help.  Most importantly, our volunteers are a friendly face with a flexible attitude so if that sounds like you head to our website: or contact Clare on Mob: 0417 624 330 or email

Image: pexels-karolina-grabowska-5311406

Prayer for Refugee Week

no one is a stranger to you
and no one is ever far from your loving care.
In your kindness watch over refugees and asylum seekers,
those separated from their loved ones, those who are lost,
and those who have been exiled from their homes.
Bring them safely to the place where they long to be,
and help us always to show your kindness to strangers and those in need.

Australian Catholic Social Justice Council

Refugee Week website
ACBC Justice, Ecology & Peace blog