We began as a TAFE project in 2001, when Kon Karapanagiotidis, then a teacher, discovered that people seeking asylum were living in the community with virtually no basic support. This led to the creation of a student-run and community funded Foodbank which was launched from a tiny shop in Footscray with only a few boxes of food. That same year, the ASRC was established on 8 June 2001.
As an independent, community-led organisation the ASRC is in a unique position to advocate for the human rights of people seeking asylum, exempt from the pressures of government or the private sector. For this reason, the ASRC has been able to take a leading position in the opposition of Australia’s asylum seeker policy, while offering alternatives to issues faced by people seeking asylum and refugees.
Today, we are the largest independent human rights organisation for refugees and people seeking asylum, delivering more services on the ground than any other independent asylum seeker organisation in the country. Our work on the frontline with people seeking asylum informs our practice and enables us to effectively advocate for, and alongside people with lived experience.
We offer more than 40 holistic programs that protect people seeking asylum from persecution and destitution, support well-being and dignity, and empower people to advance their own future.
We are proudly owned and run by our community and supported by a network of more than 1000 volunteers and 100 staff in assisting around 4600 people seeking asylum each year.
Our vision is that people seeking asylum can live safely, sustainably, independently and equally.
ASRC is a place and part of a movement. We support and empower people at critical junctures of their journey.
Building on our proximity to those with lived experience, we mobilise and partner for a community of compassion, justice and opportunity.