Project Dignity

Supporting Refugees Seeking Asylum

Tikkun Olam, “repair of the world”, is an ancient Jewish concept that’s become synonymous with a call for social justice. Project Dignity Australia is a Temple Beth Israel initiative created in response to the plight of refugees and asylum seekers from many nations who have recently fled to Australia as a place of safety from war and persecution. PD’s activities operate in conjunction with other religious and community organisations that are committed to supporting refugees.

Project Dignity Australia – What we do

We operate in partnership with other religious and community organisations that have a commitment to refugee support.

Our partners include The Salvation Army Asylum Seeker Service, Deakin CREATE (Centre for Refugee Employment, Advocacy Training and Education), Stand Up, and the ASRC (Asylum Seeker Resource Centre).

Together we facilitate a range of practical, educational and cultural activities that contribute to breaking down cultural and religious barriers, relieve poverty and disadvantage, and develop shared understandings and a sense of community.

Refugees experience many problems as they seek to gain permanent or temporary residence in Australia. PD is actively involved in giving practical, material and emotional support to those who have been forced out of their homelands through no fault of their own.

To get involved, please contact us

Refugees, human rights and Project Dignity Australia

In 1945 Australia was a founding member of the United Nations and one of eight nations involved in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Universal Declaration was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948, and later ratified by 145 nations at the United Nations Refugee Convention in 1951. Motivated by the harrowing circumstances of the Holocaust and two world wars, this was the first time that countries had agreed on a comprehensive statement of inalienable human rights.

This posed two questions for Australians:

As a signatory of the 1948/51 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, what are Australia’s obligations to refugees fleeing from war and persecution today?

Project Dignity was formed on Rosh HaShanah (Jewish New Year) 2016, after a call to action by Rabbi Gersh Lazarow in response to the reopening of Manus Island. Rabbi Lazarow believed that we should stand up and help support these vulnerable people.

Today there are more than 15 committee members who together with our partners have succeeded in providing support, companionship and education for families and individuals, many of whom are young and alone.

Click here to read Australia and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Click here for the Asylum Seekers’ and Refugees’ Guide – Australian Human Rights

Click here for the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA)

Click here for the Assembly of Rabbis and Cantors (ARC) and the Union of Progressive Judaism (UPJ) affirmation of the policy of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ)  concerning the issue of refugees and asylum seekers in Australia.

In the News

Bringing relief and a hand up to refugees

Australian Jewish News article about the Project Dignity Crisis Relief Program during the COVID lockdown – 4 Sept 2020

Karen honoured for her role in ‘repairing the world’

Major Karen Elkington was awarded the Victorian Multicultural Commission Award for Excellence – 27 Nov 2019

Partners and Donors

We extend our gratitude to the following organisations and businesses for their ongoing support:

Temple Beth Israel           Deakin CREATE          Mazon Australia      Nourish

Salvation Army Asylum Seeker Service        Father Bobs Foundation

Food Filled           Fareshare                The Leaf Store             Bright Sparqe


Outreach Program

When COVID-19 hit in March 2020, asylum seekers found themselves in a desperate state with no jobs and no financial or physical assistance from Victorian or Australian governments.

Project Dignity members created a crisis relief program that provided food, meals and caring to relieve the terrible isolation and hardship that was experienced by refugee students and families who had escaped terrible suffering.

English Conversation

English conversation practice strongly impacts an asylum seeker’s ability to integrate into Australian life. It improves their capability to communicate for things that we take for granted, including shopping, workplace interactions, being a student, and making friends.

Project Dignity pairs people with a volunteer for weekly conversations over Zoom where they hear about each other’s lives and experiences.

If you’d like to volunteer for weekly conversations, please email us.

Programs Project Dignity Supports

CREATE Careers Clinics Mentoring Program

The Centre for Refugee Employment, Advocacy, Training and Education (CREATE) aims to help refugees rebuild their careers after leaving their home country through obtaining meaningful employment and access to vocational training and education.

The centre works closely with non-governmental and governmental organisations to develop practical solutions that support refugee integration into the workplace and the vocational and higher education sectors, as well as advocate on behalf of the refugee community to foster policy changes that support such integration.

Click here for more information

Volunteers needed

We are looking for volunteer mentors with business and academic experience to work with mentees to explore pathways to meaningful employment.

To volunteer, contact Karen Dunwoodie