Supporting the settlement of refugees in our National Capital.

You can visit us on twitter – @CRS_Refugee

Upcoming CRS and CRS supported events

Events will be added to this site as they are programmed or advised to us.

CRS Fundraising Dinner, Thursday 12 October 2017 – Mark your Diaries!

The 2017 CRS Fundraising Dinner is on Thursday 12 October 2017 at the Hellenic Club’s Olympus Room Matilda Street, Woden ACT  – 6.30pm for 7pm.

Guest speaker is Paul Power, CEO of Refugee Council of Australia (RCoA) and Kim Huynh, a local identity, academic and author will also feature. The MC for the evening will be the wonderful Alex Sloan, 2017 Canberra Citizen of the Year and former ABC Local Radio 666 presenter.

There will be great auction items and raffle prizes, as well as a lovely meal that the Club is renowned for and has provided for past events.

A flyer for this event is at this link: CRS Dinner 12 Oct 2017 flier_2208_vers2

Regular events

Committee Meetings – 2017

Usually first Wednesday of each month from 7.30 to 9.00pm except School Holidays. Meetings are held in the Delphi Room at the Hellenic Club in Woden.

Please email us at if you would like further information. Members are always welcome to attend Committee meetings – but please check as meetings are sometimes cancelled. Please note that we don’t have Committee meetings during school holidays.

Committee Meetings for the rest of 2017 are planned as follows:

  • 4 October
  • 1 November
  • 6 December

The AGM was held on Wednesday 6th September.

Orientation Sessions 

We hold regular orientation sessions, usually less than two hours, to explain the work of CRS and to introduce new members to the organisation. Please note that we don’t conduct orientation sessions during school holidays. The planned program is as follows

  • Monday 9 October
  • Monday 27 November

The sessions run from 6.30 to 8.00pm.

Please contact to check the date, location and time if you’d like to attend, or if you would like further information.

Share What You Know Workshops

Last year we very successfully trialled ‘Share What You Know Workshops‘ which are an opportunity for members to discuss cases and swap ideas on how to do things better, or other options for providing support. We plan to hold more of these next  year.

These workshops are for members only. More information will be provided through emails and the Newsletter once dates and details have been finalised.

Some Past Events

CRS Scholarship Presentation, Monday 20 June 2017

To mark UN World Refugee Day each year, Canberra Refugee Support sponsors a refugee scholarship program to recognise and support refugees in Canberra. 2017 was the thirteenth year a public scholarship program has been delivered. This is probably the most significant event in the CRS calendar which this year was held on Tuesday 20 June at the Theo Notaras Multicultural Centre in Civic.

The purpose of the Canberra Refugee Support Scholarships is to recognise meritorious performance and to encourage and support outstanding refugee students in the pursuit of their personal development goals.

Scholarships are awarded to Asylum Seekers or Refugees who are studying or seeking to study at CIT, IEC or at other institutions while they are living in Canberra. Winners are selected on the basis of meritorious performance rather than academic results alone. The CRS Refugee Scholarship Program has grown from a modest “one-off” presentation, to an annual event with support from a very wide section of the ACT’s community.

In total, 52 scholarships with a total value of $31,500 were awarded. Awards ranged in size from $300 to $1000 and were spread across primary, secondary and adult students with slightly more male than female recipients and nearly 60 per cent of the awards going to school and college students.

The Scholarship Program is funded from donations. Our 56 donors consisted mainly of individuals, but also represented were churches, schools, other non-government organisations, government departments and their staff and an international agency.

We are grateful to the many donors who support the refugees who have settled in the Canberra region.

Thanks again for this effort must go to Catherine G, who repeated her outstanding work from last year – and the two years before!

Support for, and knowledge about the program is increasing rapidly. Articles in the media about the scholarships program have appeared in The Canberra Times, The Canberra Weekly, City News, The ACT Public Service ‘PSNews’ and a media release by the ACT Minister for Multicultural Affairs. There was also a mention of the program on radio RN on Saturday morning.

Our MC for the event was the well-known and much loved (now retired) ABC Local Radio 666 presenter Alex Sloan, who as for the last three years, did a marvelous job to keep the event moving and flowing.


Photo, left to right: Alex Sloan, Natasha Jacob, Rachel Stephen-Smith and Doug Hynd.

The President of CRS, Doug Hynd, noted in his introductory address that Alex is this year’s Canberra Citizen of the Year, a true reflection of the affection and respect in which she is held in Canberra. Alex was recognised for her services to the community of the ACT, through her commitment to telling the stories of Canberrans over 22 years in local radio and through her selfless support of a range of community organisations and charitable events.

In his address, Doug officially opened proceedings with an explanatory address about the program, and welcomed recipients, CRS members, other supporting guests and a delivered a special thanks to donors.

The Keynote Speaker was Ms. Natasha Yacoub, representing the Regional Representative of the UNHCR, Thomas Albrecht, who was unable to attend. Natasha gave a thought provoking and supportive addresses.

The Minister for Multicultural Affairs in the ACT Government Ms Rachel Stephen-Smith MLA was another official guest, and likewise delivered a supportive and encouraging address. Doug Hynd, Natasha Yacoub and Rachel Stephen-Smith then jointly presented scholarships.


The addresses by Doug and Rachel are at the following links:

Doug Hynd  – Speaking Notes for Item 2 CRS President

Ms. Rachel Stephen-Smith (pictured below) – 20170619 CRS scholarship event Speaking Notes


Congratulations to all this year’s scholarship winners.

We have many people to thank for making this year’s event possible.

Firstly, our nominators: Canberra Institute of Technology; Companion House; Australian Red Cross; Navitas English, Canberra; and the ACT Education and Training Directorate, including the Introductory English Centres and the Dickson College Refugee Bridging Program.

Secondly, our organisers. The program was run this year by a team of Chris A (coordination), Catherine G (fund-raising), Judy L and Jane L (nominations), and Brian C (media and logistics), all of whom did a terrific job, with further assistance, particularly on the day, by Morna W, David C, Virginia B, Jane C, Alison T, Colleen F, Steve W, and Christine C. The thanks of all CRS members go to them and to all who helped in so many ways. Without these dedicated volunteers the event would not have been possible.

Finally, our donors. We rely on the generous support of the Canberra community to make this event possible every year. We highly value our links with all the people and organisations with whom we work to assist refugees in our local community. We are particularly grateful for the generous sponsorship we have received for scholarships, and recognised their contribution on our program of events.

CRS Fundraising Dinner – 20 October 2016

The 2016 CRS Fundraising Dinner was held at The Hellenic Club in Phillip on Thursday 20 October. Once again, the Hellenic Club provided a terrific venue, with efficient and courteous service and delicious food. This is more than a club: worth making the effort to visit.

The evening started with a formal farewell to the President of Canberra Refugee Support, Geoff McPherson, AM, who stepped down in September after 15 years in the role. The current President, Doug Hynd, also a long term member of CRS, read out excerpts from letters from Senator Katy Gallagher and Thomas Albrecht, Regional Representative of the UNHCR, recognising and praising his significant contribution to the settlement of refugees and asylum seekers in Canberra. Cathy Ragless, the Director of Companion House, talked of her relationship with Geoff as they worked together to achieve common goals. She wryly noted that they had different approaches initially that developed into a constructive working relationship, but stressed his ‘vision’ that has resulted in several significant programs: amongst them the Calvary Hospital Mentoring program, the annual CRS Scholarships presentation and, probably most significant, the Asylum Seeker Access Card, which has allowed new arrivals in our community to obtain appropriate services with a minimum of fuss. Appropriately, given his role in having this card approved by a sympathetic ACT government, Nick Manikis, from the ACT Government’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, presented Geoff with a framed certificate of appreciation from the Department, and spoke of his long, fruitful association with Geoff. He echoed the thoughts of many in the audience when he spoke of the way Geoff was able to get agreement, often without you realising that you’d agreed to him! The unwavering support through all these years of Geoff’s wife Elizabeth, and his family, was also recognised. Geoff responded briefly and acknowledged the unwavering support of the members of the CRS organisation, the other support groups in the territory, the ACT government and importantly, the people of Canberra. He also thanked Elizabeth and his family and for their support, that enabled him to be there when asylum seekers and refugees need a neighbourly hand.


A lovely finale was the performance of two rappa songs by his grandchildren with lyrics echoing the plight and hopes of asylum seekers and refugees.


Doug Hynd announced that in recognition of Geoff’s contribution over more than 15 years to recognise and support refugees in Canberra that the annual scholarship presentation was to be renamed ‘The Geoff McPherson CRS Scholarship Presentation’.

Our keynote speaker was Father Frank Brennan SJ, AO the newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Social Services Australia. Frank Brennan, SJ, AO is one of Australia’s leading advocates for justice and equity. His record on speaking out on behalf of people who have been ignored and disregarded in our community is unparalleled. (Read more about Father Frank at

His address enthralled the attendees: a combination of obvious passion, facts, humanity – and some suggestions for doing things much better. You can follow this link to his talk:

The success of the dinner was due to the hard work of the organisers and their support teams. It is hard to single out individuals, but Morna and Don rate a special mention – thank you to you both.

The fundraising events were also successful, so a big, heartfelt thank you to the organisers, the workers and to the various individuals and organisations that contributed the fabulous prizes. Particular thanks to Chloe’s grandmother who again donated a painting for auction and to Tina who donated over $ 1000 worth of prizes for the raffle.



5 thoughts on “Events

  1. I am enquiring about membership as a volunteer to assist with the resettlement of refugees. I would like to meet with someone to find out how it works and how I might fit in. Cheers.


    • Hi Greg,

      My apologies for this very late reply to your message – my only excuse was that Inwas overseas and this slipped through. If you’re still interested, please email, and our secretary will make contact about a time and place.

      Thank you for your interest,



  2. Hi, I wonder if you would be able to promote this community event on your site. The event is a fundraiser for Lifeline Canberra:

    ‘I Will Stand Fast’, a concert for Lifeline Canberra will be performed by the Strange Weather Gospel Choir on Sunday 4th December at the All Saints’ Anglican Church, Ainslie.

    The choir will showcase a stunning variety of gospel, spiritual, African and contemporary songs, with a special guest appearance by The Foray Quintet.

    Afternoon tea will be served after the concert, for an additional gold coin donation.

    All profits will be donated to Lifeline Canberra.

    Tickets are available online either through Eventbrite ‘I Will Stand Fast’, or the Strange Weather website , or at the door.

    Adult $30; Concession (students/pensioners) $25; Family $50 (up to 4 family members); Children under 12 free


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