The Bigger Picture: The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
Earlier this week I visited The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC). ASRC is Australia’s largest provider of aid, advocacy and health services to people seeking asylum. Founded in 2001 by CEO Kon Karapanaagiotidis, the centre has been a place of refuge and hope to more than 10,000 members, and currently services more than 2,000 people seeking asylum. Originally started as a TAFE project in 2001 by Kon, then a teacher, to see how far the initiative has come, first hand, was incredible.
Since 2001 the centre has now grown to include 30 programs that protect, support and empower Australia’s wide asylum seeker community. With a focus on food and material aid, health, legal, employment, education and training, social and community development and social enterprise. These programs serve the larger objective of ensuring people seeking asylum are treated fairly with their rights upheld under international human rights law. The ASRC’s commitment to ensuring asylum seekers experience the best possible physical, mental and social well-being, really is to be commended.
The ASRC continues to be independent, they do not receive any Federal Government funding, and is upheld by the generous donations of individuals, philanthropy and partners. The below are just a few of their recent accomplishments:
- Welcomed 2,000 asylum seeker members
- Secured 13,500 nights of shelter for asylum seekers, sustaining housing for on average 43 asylum seekers per month
- Offered 40,000 community meals
- Performed 3,200 medical and health appointments
- Delivered 2,325 legal appointments
- Secured sustainable employment for over 110 people
- Offered education pathways to more than 150 people
- Delivered groceries to more than 200 families, every week
- Offered more than 4000 hours of English classes
- Launched the Innovation Hub in January, a world-class model in community empowerment, providing employment, youth and women’s programs, education, professional mentoring, and social development services to more than 200 asylum seekers
- Found sustainable employment for 49% of asylum seeker members in the Dandenong Centre
As I toured around the centre visiting the entertainment area, the food bank donated by all the volunteers, the health care office and the various other facilities and amenities, I felt immensely lucky to be in the presence of such generous individuals. I also feel extremely proud that we, as a growing company, maintain regular involvement in charity activities of all walks. Although we work in a fast passed industry, constantly pushing for innovation and advancements, it’s important to stay humble and to remain mindful of the wider picture. We, collectively, want to contribute and give back to the community not only economically but also to drive positive change.