Matthew TuttyIn this report you will discover the achievements of an organisation that has worked to empower people seeking asylum for 15 years.

2001 bore witness to the Tampa crisis in stark and disillusioning contrast to the first World Refugee Day. And this year, it witnesses a national and global humanitarian crisis that is entirely without precedent. The world and our challenge has continually evolved.Over the past two years, the ASRC has grown threefold into a new and beautiful Centre in order to meet this evolving challenge. With all the vicissitudes of change there is always the danger of being drawn away from the things that matter most. In this sense, the past year has been a defining one in the life of the organisation. We have recognised that the dramatic change we chartered requires reciprocation in the strength of our culture and leadership. Through reflection and hard work, we have matured as an organisation. Central to this is the lesson that our purpose must remain at the heart of everything we say and do.

We exist for people seeking asylum – for those who seek to rebuild their lives where it is safe. We are a place and a movement. As a place, people feel welcomed, are safe and supported through our 30 community-based programs. As a movement, we mobilise and unite communities to create lasting social and policy change. We exist for people, and we achieve through people.

On behalf of the Board, thank you to the 1200 volunteers and 85 staff who breathed life into this purpose, assisting more than 3000 people in the year. Thank you also to our CEO, Kon, and the management team for their leadership, resolve, and commitment to continual improvement. Thank you to our supporters, individual givers, patrons and ambassadors, national peers, and philanthropic partners. We are one community inspired by the belief that when people are in harm’s way, we can do the right thing.

I am pleased to introduce this year’s annual report in recognition of the many accomplishments of this community. I also hope it serves as
a helpful reminder of the purpose that binds us. To quote The Little Prince, “what is essential is invisible to the eye”, and it is only with constant attention to our heart – our purpose – that we might rightly see.

Matthew Tutty
Chair of the Board

Kon Karapanagiotidis
The last 12 months has seen the ASRC and the entire refugee movement in Australia face the greatest humanitarian crisis for people seeking asylum since the days of Malcolm Fraser.

With over 30,000 people seeking safety nationally, our sector has had to endure draconian policy changes, an erosion of a safety net and deep funding cuts to legal assistance. This has been catastrophic for the wellbeing and mental health of people seeking asylum, while degrading their ability to rebuild their lives and plan their future.

As an organisation we have had to rapidly grow threefold in the last two years to meet the crisis. We have responded to the extraordinary demand on our services by providing critical access to justice, nutritious food, housing, education & training pathways and employment assistance to record numbers of people. Such rapid growth has brought its own complex challenges and growing pains, but we have weathered them together as one team, ending the year stronger than ever before. We have invested in strengthening our culture, by embodying our values at every level and governance, to ensure we continue to provide adaptive, high-quality services for people seeking safety.

In 2015–16 the ASRC celebrated its 15 year anniversary. Together, we have supported and empowered around 12,000 people seeking asylum since opening our doors. I am so proud and grateful to our staf, volunteers and members for their passion, dedication and commitment to building a welcoming and fair Australia. Their hard work, empathy and compassion in trying times leave me in awe of their resilience and care for humanity. We are also grateful to count as part of the ASRC family, 46 staf and 91 volunteers currently seeking asylum. This ensures people with lived experience of seeking asylum are at the centre of all we do. In the last 12 months, we launched our groundbreaking Words That Work research which has steered our advocacy by putting forward the most compelling case for a more humane approach to people seeking asylum. Using this research we are reframing the national conversation across Australia through a new community education program. The generosity and support of our community has meant we were able to raise over $1 million worth of food in Foodbank, and provided access to fresh food at a 75 per cent discount on the Food Justice Truck to an additional 2,000 people seeking asylum. We’ve increased the number of hours we ofer English language classes by 248 per cent and expanded our employer partnerships across two sites and placed 220 members into jobs. We have ramped up access to legal services thanks to the establishment of a pro-bono legal network which has enabled us to provide four free weekly legal clinics, which is double the number from last year. To top it of, we have launched the country’s first free immunisation clinic and diabetes screening program for people seeking asylum, as also assisted and mentored six people to launch their own businesses in Australia, it has been an incredible year.

The ASRC continued to use our fearless independence to be there at the coalface, championing the rights of refugees and people seeking safety, regardless of whether they are on Manus, Nauru or in our community. In the next 12 months with your continued support, we will continue to offer a humane and compassionate alternative to the issues faced by people seeking asylum, and a beacon of hope and humanity as we build together a national movement of real change and welcome.

Kon Karapanagiotidis
CEO and Founder

The ASRC’s strategic plan, 2016–2018 is our road map and vision for the welcoming Australia we want for people seeking asylum; one that is generous, compassionate, embraces the resilience, entrepreneurial spirit and potential of refugees to enable people to thrive. Our three year strategic plan centres around four core pillars; a thriving people centred organisation that invests in the potential of refugees and people seeking asylum to succeed; place their voices at the centre of our work; deliver world class services; all while striving to protect human rights and change community attitudes.

People seeking asylum are treated fairly and humanely with their rights respected under international human rights law.

  • Ensure people seeking asylum have access to justice.
  • Fair and just law and policy.
  • The broader community understand
    the issues facing people seeking asylum and support their right to seek protection from harm.
  • A global collaborative, diverse and effective movement that drives change to restore and uphold the rights of people seeking asylum.

People seeking asylum are valued and are able to determine and advance their own futures.

  • People seeking asylum achieve social and economic participation.
  • People seeking asylum have influence and involvement in the programs and services that impact their lives.
  • Community-based solutions to the challenges asylum seekers face.

People seeking asylum experience the best possible physical, mental and social well-being.

  • People seeking asylum are empowered to maximise their own physical, mental & social well-being.
  • Universal access to high-quality, essential services.
  • Demonstrably high impact programs and services that are driven by the needs of people seeking asylum.

A thriving people centred organisation that is financially and operationally sustainable.

  • Strong organisational infrastructure that supports accountability, eficiency and enhances capacity.
  • Diverse partnerships and income streams building long-term sustainability.

The strength and power of the ASRC is in its people. As the lifeblood of the organisation, the ASRC continually strives to ensure all staff, volunteers and members are supported, and feel safe in an environment where they can contribute and thrive. A community-based model underpins our priorities of inclusion, engagement, building capability and leadership throughout the organisation. This is our commitment to a thriving people-centred culture. We are proud to be run and owned by our community. We want to acknowledge and celebrate the contribution of our members, volunteers and staff whom the ASRC would cease to exist.

Each of the ASRC’s 30 programs has been designed to connect the organisation’s values and mission, and operate from a holistic, strengths-based approach to support and empower people seeking asylum. Our programs assist over 3000 members to gain access to justice, achieve social and economic participation and experience the best possible physical, mental and social well-being.

In 2015–16 the ASRC continued to investigate and invest in opportunities for our members to contribute to the development, leadership and evaluation of programs that impact their lives. Currently 91 volunteers seeking asylum actively lead or contribute to our programs. Member-contribution continues to positively impact the quality of the organisation’s service delivery model.

Some of our programs

Client ServicesGeneral Access ProgramMaterial Aid
HealthFoodbankCommunity Meals
WISE WomenMentoringSocial and Community Development
DrivingEmpowerment PathwaysYouth Empowerment
Human Rights Law ProgramCommunity EngagementCommunity Education
Detention RightsAdvocacySpeakers
CampaignsYouth Action ProjectSchools
ASRC CateringASRC CleaningFood Justice Truck

Fundraising is of critical importance to the ASRC. We are a proudly independent voice for human rights, relying on support from the community to keep our doors open and our programs running. Our fundraising programs are not only about much-needed funding; they are also an important part of building a community and a movement in support of justice and fairness.

The ASRC would like to extend a heartfelt and humble thank you to our community of donors whose continued generosity and response has grown fundraising income by 26 per cent in 2015-16, to $7.01m. We met our targets through a fundraising mix that includes donations, grants, community fundraising and events.

However as the need for our services increased, so too have the pressures on fundraising to meet growing targets. Thanks to our dedicated supporters, fundraising income has been able to meet these pressures, with sustained growth at nearly 3 times when compared with our income five years ago, at $2.2m. In 2015-16, funds raised increased by 26 per cent compared with 30 per cent the year previous.


Cash on hand was $1.2 million higher at the end of the financial year^28% Total revenue for the year increased to $8.7 million^62% Social enterprise revenue grew by $600894^23% Fundraising revenue grew by $13152003*
^31% Average spend per member increased by $1157$216221 was returned to reserves in 2016

To find out more, please read the full version of our financial summary.


* Excludes distribution of income generated from social enterprises. These percentages do not include the financial and non-financial contribution of over 1200 volunteers who make the work of the ASRC possible.
† This demonstrates prudent stewardship of funds and ensures the long term sustainability of the ASRC and the services it provides to our members.
‡ This is in line with our strategy to provide holistic services to our members. This figure is comprised all direct services that our 3000 members receive.

You can also read the full version of our 2016 Annual Report in PDF format.

We can only achieve all of this through the support of our community. Help us to continue our work, donate today