Developing a fuller understanding of refugee community organisations is important not only to understand the support that is provided within refugee communities in assisting others to settle but so that these groups can be strengthened to play this important role. Where organisations and groups are less well resourced, informed and supported by wider Australian government and community services, misinformation and divisions can be perpetuated within communities (Waxman 1998).
Investing in these largely volunteer-run community structures moves further towards a strengths-based model of refugee resettlement that recognises the resilience, skills and experiences of refugees themselves and the valuable and cost-effective contribution they can make to providing holistic settlement support. With this in mind, RCOA recommends:
Further research be undertaken to explore the roles played by refugee community organisations, the challenges they face and how they can be strengthened.
A strategy be developed by the Department of Social Services for supporting, strengthening and incorporating refugee community organisations in the national settlement framework.
Funding bodies consider ways to support refugee communities to build viable organisational structures.62
Local, state and federal government policy-makers consider ways of critically engaging refugee community leaders in decision-making forums.
Capacity building initiatives be considered that focus on refugee community leaders and supporting the development of robust community structures.