Operation #NotForgotten was developed in 2019 as a community-led response to provide private sponsorship to Canada for refugees who have been caught in Australia’s offshore processing regime and are stuck in Papua New Guinea, Nauru or in detention in Australia and have been left with no viable resettlement options, having been excluded from Australia’s resettlement deal with the United States.
Who is involved in Operation #NotForgotten
- MOSAIC, a migrant and refugee settlement service based in Vancouver, is the Operation #NotForgotten coordinator.
- The Refugee Council of Australia is promoting and coordinating tax-deductible donations from Australians and advocating with governments to address any logistical issues to facilitate resettlement.
- Ads Up Canada Refugee Network is assisting MOSAIC with the recruitment and support of volunteers in Canada to provide settlement support and to run fundraising campaigns in Australia for refugee families, directing donations through the Refugee Council of Australia.
- UNHCR’s Canberra office offers advice to Operation #NotForgotten’s partners.
We need your help right now
As at October 2021, around 1,400 people remain in Australia’s offshore processing arrangements – in Nauru, Papua New Guinea or medically evacuated to Australia. Those evacuated to Australia remain in locked detention, community detention or are living on Final Departure Bridging Visas, with no access to a financial safety net. Both the current Coalition Government and the Labor Opposition continue to insist that refugees from this group will not be allowed to settle permanently in Australia.
Of this group, up to 250 may have the opportunity to resettle in the United States and a further 150 are on a pathway to Canada through Operation #NotForgotten. This leaves about 1000 refugees and asylum seekers with no current solution. New Zealand’s long-standing offer to resettle 150 refugees a year is still yet to be taken up by the Australian Government. Having already lost eight years of their lives, the refugees caught up in this policy desperately need safety and security. The October 2021 announcement that the Australian Government is ending its arrangement with PNG from 1 January 2022 has left refugees remaining in PNG fearful about their future.
We have the opportunity to put forward 30 more sponsorship applications before the end of 2021, if we can raise sufficient funds. To do this, we need to raise $500,000 by Christmas.
The case for supporting Operation #NotForgotten is explained in two short videos:
- Myo Win, a Rohingya refugee who has spent eight years on Nauru, explains what it means to him to be sponsored to Canada and how much he is looking forward to be reunited with his wife and children who are currently in very difficult circumstances in Myanmar.
- Bryan Gaensler, the 1999 Young Australian of the Year and now a permanent resident of Canada, shares how his grandmother’s experience as a refugee fleeing Nazi Germany has influenced his decision to become a volunteer with Ads Up Canada. He is part of the team of volunteers welcoming ex Nauru and Manus refugees to Toronto.
What is involved in sponsorship
Under Canada’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees program, the Sponsorship Agreement Holder must have fulfilled the following prerequisites before an application can be lodged:
- The Operation #NotForgotten sponsorship opportunity is only for refugees and eligible asylum seekers who were sent by Australia to PNG’s Manus Island or Nauru between 19 July 2013 and December 2014.
- The designated level of funds required for income support for a refugee in the first year after arrival in Canada is around AUD21,500 or around AUD36,500 for a family of five.
- Sponsorship Agreement Holders must have a team of volunteers ready to welcome and support the refugee in the city of settlement for the first 12 months in Canada.
Given the sponsorship program also reunites families which have been separated by refugee flight, funds and support must be available for a spouse or children under 22 years who are in other countries.
As Operation #NotForgotten is sponsoring a mixture of single adult refugees and family groups, the current average cost per person is around AUD16,500. The funds raised for sponsorship ensure that newly arrived refugees in Canada have money to live on during their first year. Refugees (like other new arrivals to Canada) have to wait 12 months before being eligible for any income support available from Canada’s provincial governments.
More information about Operation #NotForgotten can be found on the MOSAIC website. For refugees interested in more details, MOSAIC has produced a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document about Operation #NotForgotten in English, Bengali, Persian and Tamil. This sponsorship opportunity is only for refugees and eligible asylum seekers who were sent by Australia to Manus Island or Nauru between 19 July 2013 and December 2014. To be eligible, people seeking asylum in this group (those currently without formal refugee status) would need to meet the Canadian Government’s Country of Asylum Class criteria.
Achievements so far
Fundraising for Operation #NotForgotten began in August 2019, initiated by Laurie Cooper of Canada Caring Society, and the first applications were lodged in December 2019. As at October 2021:
- Operation #NotForgotten has raised AU$3.65 million, of which AU$3.26 million has been raised in Australia through the Refugee Council of Australia.
- With the funds raised, MOSAIC has lodged sponsorship applications for 147 refugees and 99 separated family members – 246 resettlement spots.
- The first sponsorship applications were approved by the Canadian Government in October 2021, with 10 refugees due to settle in Canada in December 2021.
- MOSAIC and Ads-Up Canada have teams of volunteers across Canada ready to receive the refugees when they arrive.
I want to help, what can I do?
The Refugee Council of Australia is receiving tax-deductible donations for Operation #NotForgotten from people resident in Australia. You can donate via Credit Card here.
Donations over $5,000 can be deposited directly into our bank account. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org so we can identify your payment. Account name: Refugee Council of Australia. BSB: 062 033. Account number: 1043 2319
Please also consider sharing our Operation #Not Forgotten infographic with your friends and networks.