Our work revolves around our Advocacy Program where we act on our members? behalf to improve government and non-governments policies and in an attempt to generate positive social change for our communities. RISE projects and services aim to redress social barriers and empower refugee and asylum seeker communities to actively participate in the wider society. Our services include:
The RISE Advocacy team seeks to generate positive change regarding the societal attitudes and political policies affecting refugees and asylum-seekers. We achieve this by engaging with various organizational and governing bodies to advocate for refugee and asylum-seeker rights. We aim to? advance appropriate refugee and asylum seeker policies, encouraging 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. We focus our efforts on these key areas:
- Refugee welfare and support System
- Refugee rights policies
- Social systems impacting refugees
- Marginalisation and disadvantages faced by refugees
We reiterate that our staff and members have personal experiences as refugees, asylum seekers and ex-detainees. As such, RISE advocacy is just as committed to ensuring that the work remains at a grassroots level.
Self-empowerment is at the core of sustainable community development. It is synonymous 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 policies are 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.
RISE support services
RISE support services offer help in addressing initial critical settlement needs for refugees and asylum seekers. We are uniquely placed to achieve this as our settlement services are informed by the knowledge, experience and expertise of our staff. Many of our staff and volunteers are refugees themselves, therefore they are able to personally empathize with newly arrived refugees. RISE?s support services seek to offer flexible settlement solutions that are individually tailored to address the circumstance and preferences of each of our members, on a best-fit basis. We seek to provide a suite of services delivered through a coordinated case management model in the following support areas:
Welfare Support: RISE provides support with the various complexities involved in applying for and receiving benefits. RISE also supports newly arrived families and youth in need of various resources including furniture, books and homewares to help establish their new lives.
Employment & Resume Clinic: RISE facilitates pathways to employment for refugees by providing training, support with job searching, and assistance with resume and interview preparation. RISE works directly with employment providers and seeks to assist refugees to secure meaningful employment.
The service provided at RISE is unlike any other organisation currently established to aid refugees and asylum seekers. We pride ourselves in helping those in our community that fall through the gaps of other organisations as they do not fit their specific criteria for assistance. It is well documented that many refugees are sleeping on floors because subcontracted organizations have failed to help them by providing the basic tools for survival. It has also come to our attention that the deficiency in the provision of these goods is at a point where people are flying from interstate to access our services.
Our Drop-In centre currently operates in the Melbourne CBD and is open to all refugees and asylum seekers. It is opened 5 days a week from 10 am to 6 pm. There are few places in Melbourne which offer a safe haven for asylum seekers and refugees to build a social network while gaining confidence and support. The RISE Drop-In Centre is a welcoming place that promotes inclusion, growth and on-going support.
The Drop-In Centre offers a range of resources including:
- Computer lab (with Internet facilities) and weekly computer literacy workshops
- RISE Resource Library (books, magazines, news articles, on multiculturalism and settlement support)
- Food Bank
- Free refreshments and snacks
- Community, welfare forums and media connections
- Resume Clinic
- Settlement support advice
- University and TAFE Information Open Days
- Music and poetry workshops
- Creative writing and drawing workshops
- Social networking space and community message board (including information on festivals, upcoming events and news pertaining to relevant creative industries, including visual arts, performing arts, music, theatre, writing and publishing and exhibitions)
The RISE Drop-In Centre welcomes community members of all ages. It is a space for newly arrived refugees and asylum seekers to meet and create social support networks by participating in our many events.
The social network created in the Drop-In Centre are a key aspect of the space. The Drop-In Centre aims to increase awareness and provide opportunities for social interaction between and among our members, who hail from various cultural and religious backgrounds. The Drop-In Centre provides food and a place to play games and meet people but more importantly it serves as a safe-haven for our community members to be themselves and to interact with a diverse cross-section of the refugee and asylum seeker communities. The social and familial element here is as important as the arts and educational activities we aim to provide. It creates a sense of belonging and participation in a larger community, reducing isolation.
The RISE Food Bank is located within the RISE drop in centre and community hub. RISE is the only central resource for eX-detainees, Refugees and Asylum seekers in Victoria. RISE places no visa requirements on who can access its services or any other restriction beyond being a resource specifically for refugees. It is refuge.
The RISE Refugee Food Bank supplies food, food vouchers and essential material aid, including toiletries, maternity items such as breast pads, baby formula and nappies. The RISE Food Bank is open every day of the year and is a drop-in service open to any refugee in Australia who needs it. Newly arrived refugees and refugees released from detention centres do not have access to welfare payments. They are also excluded from most employment options. With the help of our volunteers we support those reduced to hunger due to these circumstances.
There is more to the RISE Food Bank beyond charity and material aid. The RISE Food Bank is an access point to a myriad of support services, such as crisis housing, employment, language classes, education, the navigation of the legal system and the immigration department and much more.
New donations to our foodbank are counted and placed on shelves once a week, where our volunteers ensure all items are still within their best before or expiry dates. All food and toiletries donations that have been opened and/or expired are composted/disposed accordingly to ensure our members have access to food and toiletries that meet health and safety standards. We also ensure specific items donated to our foodbank are set aside and saved for members who have specific dietary requirement to meet their health and religious needs.
RISE supports refugee and asylum seeker communities to meet their educational needs by offering advice and personalised guidance about the various educational pathways available. RISE also runs a volunteer based homework and language support program. RISE?s Tutoring program was designed in consultation with experienced and qualified EAL teachers and volunteers, who also instruct the classes.
RISE?s Tutoring program utilises a curriculum set by Language Leader. This program is highly recommended by EAL (English as an Additional Language) teachers and provides a logical and thought-provoking approach to learning English. The program also helps students to develop their analytical and communication skills, so they are better able to utilise their linguistic knowledge.
Classes will be held at the Drop-in Centre, a multi-purpose space run by RISE situated in the heart of Melbourne. The space is equipped with desks, chairs, computers, as well as English dictionaries and books suitable for EAL learning. Additionally, students who require it will be lent computers or laptops for the duration of the course, so that they are able to study from home with electronic resources.
As part of the RISE Drop-In Centre, RISE maintains a Resource Library for our members. The Resource Library aims to support and strengthen positive representations of our communities as well as provide members with access to a wide variety of materials that facilitate resistance to racism. All of the hand-picked resources that are stored in our Resource Library contain a similar theme, which is the promotion of strength and personal empowerment.
The library collection includes world literature and history, anti-oppression material, bilingual books and dictionaries. There are also a number of resources that can help direct our members towards critical resources to facilitate employment, provide medical support, food bank facilities and housing services. Most of the resources were donated by members of the public.
The RISE Resource Library also runs book clubs and theoretical driving class workshops by providing the necessary resources. The impact the Resource Library has on our members is a personal one as the knowledge gained through education empowers individuals. Providing members with access to resources to further their knowledge regarding current events that impact their circumstances enables them to have a positive impact within the community.
Hours of Operation: The RISE Resource Library will be open for in-house browsing during regular RISE office hours (Monday-Friday, 11am -3pm) when there is a library volunteer/staff member present.