Director’s Letter for Easter LINK: Tamara Domicelj, our new Director!

16 April 2021

This article features in our latest Easter edition of LINK, the quarterly newsletter of JRS Australia. Please click here to read the full PDF.

I am delighted to have joined JRS Australia as the new Country Director and extend my warmest thanks for the kind welcome which I have received during my first days in the role.

I feel honoured to succeed Carolina Gottardo, with whom I have had the pleasure of working closely over recent years, particularly in relation to global and Asia regional advocacy to strengthen the protection – in law, policy and practice – of refugees, people seeking asylum and migrants in situations of vulnerability. I’ve also enjoyed collaborations with successive prior JRS Australia Directors – Fr. Sacha Bermudez-Goldman SJ, Fr. David Holdcroft SJ, Fr. Aloysius Mowe SJ – and staff, as well as JRS colleagues in the Asia region. 

My respect for JRS runs deep and I’m humbled by the opportunity, now, to contribute to its excellent work from within. 

By way of brief introduction, I am fortunate to have worked in the field of refugee protection and forced migration for a couple of decades. Most recently I worked with Act for Peace – the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches Australia – where I led Asia regional and global advocacy in these areas, partnering with the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN) as its focal point for the development and initial roll-out of the Global Compact on Refugees, adopted in 2018. 

My earlier roles include having been the Director of the Asylum Seekers Centre (ASC), the National Policy Director of the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA), working on detention monitoring and refugee and asylum seeker policy at the Australian Human Rights Commission, managing the Families in Cultural Transition program at STARTTS, and working with internally displaced peoples and indigenous rights activists in Mexico.  

Across it all, I have witnessed exceptional resilience, leadership and a relentless drive to contribute on the part of the refugees, people seeking asylum and migrants with and for whom I have been privileged to work, as my colleagues, teachers and service beneficiaries. 

And I have seen unwavering generosity from diverse supporters, who donate time, talents, funds and work tirelessly to achieve a ‘fairer go’ for all who have been forced to flee their homes, and for their families and loved ones, wherever they may be. 

All of this is part of a global fabric of goodwill and determination which I believe is gaining strength rather than flagging in these volatile and challenging times. 

It has been an extraordinary year for us all. A global pandemic has at once laid bare our interconnectedness (the virus does not discriminate; and no-one is safe until we all are) and the deep inequalities and exclusions by which our societies are beset. And those whom JRS serves, denied most COVID-19 support packages, have been amongst the hardest hit. With income loss rife, collectively, we are their safety net. Now more than ever, every contribution counts. 

Since the emergence of COVID-19, JRS Australia has faced an unprecedented 263 percent increase in demand for our services, and has responded by digging deep, innovating and scaling up. The JRS staff, volunteers, Board and supporters have put in exceptional efforts, for which I thank and honour them. 

As Easter approaches, a time of suffering, hope and renewal, I look to the future with optimism that together we can ‘build back better’, walking with purpose and high ambition alongside those whom we serve. 

 

Warm thanks again for your support and welcome.

 

In peace and solidarity,

 

Tamara Domicelj

 

JRS Australia Director

 

 

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