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 date of the 2017 CRS Fundraising Dinner has now been set – Thursday 12 October 2017. All event details will be provided in due course, and a call will be issued soon for suitable prizes (medium to high value) for the raffle. In the meantime, please mark the date in your diaries!

Constance on the Edge – Launch of National Refugee Week screening Program

Members may be interested that the makers of the above film, recently screened at a joint CRS/CIT event, have announced the launch of a National Refugee Week 2017 screening program in conjunction with the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA).  For more details, please visit the ‘Constance on the Edge’ website at

Geoff McPherson CRS Scholarship Program – 2017

Canberra Refugee Support Inc Invites you and your guests to the Presentation of the 2017 Geoff McPherson CRS Refugee Scholarships to Celebrate UN World Refugee Day at the Function Room, Theo Notaras Multicultural Centre, North Building, Civic Square, London Circuit, Canberra on Tuesday 20 June 2017 from 9am – 10:30am
Special guests Ms Rachel Stephen-Smith MLA, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Mr Thomas Albrecht, UNHCR Regional Representative
Enquiries to:

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 2017 are planned as follows:

  • 7 June
  • 5 July
  • 2 August
  • 6 September
  • 4 October
  • 1 November
  • 6 December

The AGM will be 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 for next year will be as follows

  • Monday 3 July
  • Monday 28 August
  • 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 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.

CRS Scholarship Presentation, Monday 20 June 2016

This is probably the most significant event in the CRS calendar  which this year was held on Monday 20 June at the Theo Notaras Multicultural Centre in Civic.

To mark UN World Refugee Day each year, Canberra Refugee Support sponsors a refugee scholarship program to recognise and support refugees in Canberra. 2016 was the twelth year a public scholarship program has been delivered.

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.

Our very first scholarship award was made to a young women from a Hazara family. This year CRS was able to recognize the fine work of many, many more by presenting 39 scholarships. The Scholarship Program is funded from donations provided from the individuals (and families), and community and business organisations: our donors are listed below. Thanks again for this effort must go to Catherine G, who repeated her outstanding work from last year – and the year before!

Our MC for the event was the well known ABC Local Radio 666 presenter Alex Sloan, who as for the last two years, did a marvelous job to keep the event moving and flowing.


The Keynote Speaker was the Regional Representative of the UNHCR, Thomas Albrecht, who gave a thought provoking and supportive addresses. The Minister for Multicultural Affairs in the ACT Government Yvette Berry was another official guest, and jointly presented scholarships with Mr Albrecht and CRS Pesident Geoff McPherson.Geoff’s introductory remarks are at this link: CRS Newsletter June 2016 – Scholarships


The 39 scholarships this year were awarded to asylum seekers and refugees who had lived in Canberra. Some scholarships were presented privately due to safety and privacy considerations or to policy restrictions. Congratulations to all this year’s scholarship winners, who are listed at this link unless privacy and/or security reasons apply.

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

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

Secondly, our organisers. The Scholarship Program this year was led by Chris A, superbly supported by Judy L and Brian C, all of  whom did a terrific job, along with Catherine G who was in charge of raising funds again this year, and the other members of the organising team. The thanks of all CRS members go to them and to all who helped in so many ways, including those who helped on the day. 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.


For information on the wonderful Poet-a-thon in support of refugees click on this link to go to our News page.

4 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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