Kon's cover image
Kon

Kon KARAPANAGIOTIDIS OAM

Year of Award: 2010 Award State: Victoria Social Welfare > Immigrants And Refugees
To visit leading refugee organisations to ascertain strategies for advocating and supporting asylum seekers in Australia - UK, Belgium, Canada, Switzerland, Greece, USA
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Highlights

The highlights of my Churchill Fellowship were plentiful, in being able to see first hand some of the worlds most innovative and groundbreaking asylum seeker programs and projects. I found in each of the 7 countries I visited that it was often the intangible that left the most lasting impression on me. The passion, creativity and sheer determination of human rights defenders everywhere I went. It was affirming to find so much common ground with my international colleagues. The struggles we face and dreams for change we have in Australia are shared everywhere I went. We are not alone but rather part of a global movement for justice, the opportunities to work together are limitless.

Some of the personal stories that stayed with me were from inspiring individuals like Maria in Queens, New York who opened up her own home to create the RIF Help Centre for asylum seekers, Spyros a solicitor in Athens who as the sole practitioner at AITIMA was assisting over 800 asylum seekers despite often going months without even being paid for his work. To the resilience of organisations such as Ecumenical Refugee Program in Athens that was running 3200 legal cases with just 4 paid solicitors to the Refugee Council, Asylum Aid and BID in London who found a way to keep delivering it's core services despite 65% of their funding being cut by the Cameron Government within the space of a few months.

Recommendations

The key recommendations of my Fellowship are that the Australian asylum seeker and refugee sector need to do the following to continue to develop towards Worlds Best Practice:

  1. Create a shared blueprint for social change
  2. Impact Driven Practice
  3. Data Based Advocacy
  4. Strategic Litigation
  5. Holistic Service Delivery
  6. Longitudinal Research
  7. Positive Messaging in Education and Communication
  8. Knowing the 3 P's of the Ask as a sector in all we do: Practical, Partnership and Policy
  9. Participatory Practice Models with asylum seekers
  10. The establishment of a National Asylum Seeker Coalition to share knowledge, successes and build capacity and influence 

 

Implementation of my findings

The learnings and recommendations of this report will be disseminated far and wide including:

  • Circulating a copy of the report to all asylum seeker and refugee organisations in Australia.
  • Presenting the key recommendations to the Network of Asylum Seeker Agencies of Victoria.
  • Running capacity building workshops on learnings of Fellowship for interested organisations.
  • Sending a copy to all stakeholders that the ASRC works with including our funders and the State and Federal Governments.
  • Sharing learnings with staff and volunteers within the ASRC through PD workshops.

Awards and Honours

  • 2011 awarded Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the community through refugee assistance organisations.
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