Refugee Airfare & Assistance
Loan Scheme (RAALS)
When a RAALS loan really means a new life
The Refugee Airfare and Assistance Loan Scheme (RAALS) was created in 2004 by the Baptist Union of Victoria, in response to hearing stories of the difficulties faced by refugees trying to bring their families to a new life in Australia. These stories continue today and tell of homes that are lost and communities destroyed through the violence of war. Visas may be granted to come to Australia but unless there is money to pay for the airfare, the visa will lapse.
Imagine your wife and children struggling to stay alive in a refugee camp, you desperately want to bring them to Australia to join you, but there is no money for the airfares. Or maybe you’ve been living in Australia for a few years but still struggle with the language and finding employment. You have been offered a job, which will be a huge boost for you and your family, both financially and socially. But the new workplace is too difficult to reach by public transport and you have no car. RAALS helps people by enabling access to a loan fund for airfares and other assistance such as purchasing a car.
History of RAALS
RAALS (previously RALS) was formed by the BUV in 2004 as the Refugee Airfare Loan Scheme in response to the needs of our Victorian Baptist refugee communities. The RALS Committee assisted our refugee communities by providing them with no- interest airfare loans in order to bring their families to Australia as they were offered Humanitarian Visas.
In 2012, following consultation with representatives from our churches, the scheme was extended in order to also offer car loans and other assistance. It was renamed RAALS, the Refugee Airfare and Assistance Loan Scheme, to reflect this.
The first loan was to a Sudanese family sponsored by Canterbury Baptist Church. Since it began, more than 140 airfare loans have been granted representing 126 families made up of around 252 adults and 256 children; more recently over 30 car loans have been approved. Most of the loans have been granted to our Sudanese, Karen & Chin communities but we have also assisted families from Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Iran, Liberia & Nigeria.
The scheme continues to support our Victorian Baptist refugee congregations to re-settle their families and build new lives here in Australia, offering hope and a sense of belonging and in turn, enriching our wider Victorian Baptist family. The Scheme’s ethos has always been to strengthen our refugee church communities, and to build and support our multicultural church here in Victoria. RAALS is held in high regard by our Victorian Baptist Churches. Donations and loans have been consistent and generous.
- Airfares [assistance with resettlement] remain our primary focus. This now may include spouse visas, family reunions visas; finance for visa applications; medical checks etc.
- Car loans were identified as a priority by the Community leaders to assist with employment opportunities. It was agreed that 1 loan per congregation would be granted; max. $7,000 per loan.
How RAALS works
Donations are made by individuals and churches to the RAALS which operates as a ‘revolving loan scheme’. A refugee in Australia can apply for a no interest loan from this fund to sponsor a relative to be brought here. The loan is then repaid in instalments, and when repaid in full, the funds can be used again for another refugee.
RAALS supporters can make tax deductible donations and can also help by spreading the message about RAALS to family, friends and church communities.
A refugee’s journey towards sanctuary and healing can begin with the flight that RAALS can make possible.
How to apply for RAALS
For more information about how to access RAALS Loans for yourself or someone in your church, contact Meewon Yang on 9880 6144 or email Meewon.firstname.lastname@example.org
Forms to be completed and submitted for the various RAALS Loan categories can be downloaded here: