Refugee Legal is the operating name (since December 2015) of the legal entity, Refugee & Immigration Legal Centre (RILC) Inc.
The organisation was established in 1998 by merging the Victorian office of the Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS) Australia Inc. and the Victorian Immigration Advice and Rights Centre (VIARC) Inc.
The merger strengthened our capacity to address an increasingly heavy – and otherwise unmet – demand for advice and casework assistance by vulnerable people seeking asylum or migration, while working for change through law reform, with education and advocacy activities, to promote a fair, just and humane refugee and migration program.
Our continuing mission is to provide key legal assistance in to people seeking asylum, migration or family reunion, who experience distinct financial and other forms disadvantage. This can stem from their cultural or linguistically diverse backgrounds or experiences of torture or trauma.
The global refugee crisis and dramatic rise in claims for protection in Australia also significantly increased demand for Refugee Legal’s free services. This necessitated an expansion of our capacity to address the need through staff, and volunteer recruitment, legal programs and projects, policy work, and training and professional development programs for lawyers and registered migration agents. Our approach continues to combine legal, education and policy work as part of an integrated, strategic approach.
Refugee Legal has historically operated on a diversified funding model, based on a range of sources from philanthropy, private/community donors (including major donors), public fundraising, professional legal training services, and Government grants or fee-for-service funding schemes at the Federal and State levels. Since 2014, when the Federal Government cut funding for key core services, Refugee Legal has increasingly relied on philanthropic grants, major donors, and community donations to fund services.