Businesses in Australia take their role as global leaders seriously and want to be among the first to stand alongside UNHCR and the Australian Government in welcoming Syrian refugees to Australia.

The Syrian situation is the largest humanitarian crisis since the end of World War Two. As global citizens, the business leaders of Australia are committed to extending a hand to support the settlement of 12,000 Syrian refugees.

The Syrian crisis has had tragic results. Over 50 per cent of displaced people are children, many of whom are under 5 years old. Nearly 30 per cent of displaced Syrians are in families headed by females.

This is a global crisis and it demands a universal response. It is not only about meeting the immediate demands but also pledging support for a long-term resettlement process to secure a bright and prosperous future for all Australians.

Australia has a proven track record of building a diverse and integrated multicultural nation. There is a role for all of us, including Australian businesses, to be leaders and champions for our country, encouraging and inspiring our newest Australians to make the most of the opportunities this great nation has to offer.

Australia?s top business leaders, many of whom share their own migration story and a vision for a strong and secure future Australia, are driving the Friendly Nation Initiative. We are calling for Australian businesses big or small to join in welcoming the newest Australians from Syria.




About the initiative

The Friendly Nation Initiative is a business led strategy that seeks to increase employment, mentoring, training, and internship opportunities for refugees and humanitarian migrants. With a particular focus on the special intake of 12,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees, it recognises that creating pathways to employment is a crucial step in the process of resettling newly arrived refugees.

Backed by an expert Steering Committee, including representatives from the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Industry Group and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Friendly Nation Initiative seeks to build effective partnerships between corporate Australia and settlement services, better linking the needs of business with the skills of refugees.

Encouraging businesses to play an active leadership role in the resettlement of refugees enhances Australia’s well-known capacity to integrate new populations and will contribute to improving overall integration outcomes.


Why support the pledge

Your company will benefit from a unique opportunity to visibly support new migrants to Australia as leaders in tackling a global crisis. Australia’s history has strong ties to migration as a key enabler for building this country and our economy.

The Friendly Nation Initiative: Support for Syria is the first of many campaigns to show leadership in welcoming and supporting our nation building agenda in Australia. This is a key step forward in valuing our most precious commodity, the people of Australia.

With over 50 per cent of Australia’s population growth generated by migration, some 200,000 people are settling permanently each year and another half a million temporary migrants live and work here. We must stand united and ready to support Australia’s future goal to be
a country known for its social, cultural and economic leadership.


Forget the myths. Migrants lift the three “Ps” of high economic growth – population, participation and productivity



Steering Committee

The Friendly Nation Initiative is led by a steering committee comprised of an impressive team of Australia’s premier business, refugee and settlement service leaders. It is supported by the secretariat services of the Migration Council Australia.




Tony Shepherd AO (Chairperson)

Tony is Chairman of Macquarie Specialised Management Limited (a global infrastructure fund), the Sydney Cricket Ground Trust and ASTRA (the subscription TV Association). He is also a Director of Virgin Australia International Holdings Limited and an advisor to Lend Lease and the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ.

Tony has had an extensive career in Australia and overseas in the private and public sectors. He pioneered private infrastructure with projects such as the Sydney Harbour Tunnel, Melbourne City Link and East Link and a range of power stations, water treatment plants, railways and light rail.

He was the inaugural Chairman of WestConnex. He oversaw the listing of Transurban, Transfield Services and Connect East.

Tony was President of the Business Council of Australia and Chairman of the National Commission of Audit.



Thomas Albrecht

Thomas Albrecht is the Regional Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Canberra, with geographical responsibility for the region, which includes Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Mr. Albrecht’s role is to work with governments and other partners to ensure all persons of concern to UNHCR, including refugees, asylum-seekers and stateless persons, receive protection, assistance and durable solutions to their plight. He is also keen to promote long-term cooperation on the protection of persons of concern in the region, and to increase understanding and support for refugees worldwide.



John Denton AO

John W.H. Denton is a Partner and the Chief Executive Officer of Corrs Chambers Westgarth, the leading Australian independent law firm. John is Chair of the Business Council of Australia/s (BCA) Global Engagement Taskforce; board member of Asialink and Teach for Australia; Chairman (emeritus) of the Experts Group on Trade and Investment in Indonesia and a founding member of the Australia China CEO Roundtable meetings. He is one of the two originating members of the B20 – the business reference group of the G20, and is a member of the Australian B20 Leadership Group. John was recently elected to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Executive Board in Paris and is a member of the ICC G20 CEO Advisory Group, the primary body for establishing the direction of business input within the G20 process.



Carmen Garcia

Carmen Garcia is the Managing Director of Community Corporate, a consultancy business that helps organisations, government and businesses challenge conventional thinking in order to achieve exceptional outcomes with long lasting impact through strategic planning, partnerships and program design, business and sustainability planning, frameworks and evaluation models, and organisational positioning and Corporate Social Responsibility. She is a member of the Settlement Services Advisory Council of Australia, and recently appointed the inaugural chair of the Social Enterprise Alliance of SA. She serves as a Director on the Australian Sponsorship 4 African Kids an AusAid recognised charity.She has held several positions including CEO, Multicultural Youth SA and Chief Strategy Officer, Access.



David Knox

Appointed Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Santos in July 2008, having been appointed Acting Chief Executive Officer in March 2008. Joined Santos in September 2007 as Executive Vice President Growth Businesses. Member of the Environment, Health, Safety and Sustainability Committee of the Board. Director of Santos Finance Ltd. Mr Knox is also Director of the Migration Council Australia. Chairman of the Adelaide Botanic Gardens Foundation and Director of the Board of the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium in South Australia. Council Member of the Business Council of Australia and Royal Institute of Australia. Chair of the CSIRO Energy Strategic Advisory Committee.



Ian Smith

Ian Smith is the founding partner of Bespoke Approach, an Australian corporate and political advisory firm. He has co-founded Barefoot To Boots, to assist refugees in camps. He was previously Australian CEO of Gavin Anderson & Company and an advisor to former Liberal leaders in two States. He has advised the Australian Government on major policy reforms and the sales of public assets and worked with companies on transactions and corporate matters. Mr. Smith is also the United Kingdom’s Honorary Consul in South Australia; Non-Executive Director, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute; Board Member, the Committee for Adelaide and Developing East Arnhem Limited (to drive economic development in northern Australia); Advisor, The Northern Territory Government’s Economic Development Panel.



Jessica Jeeves

Jessica Jeeves joined the Business Council of Australia in 2012, where she has carriage of the BCA’s Business in the Community agenda, which focuses on the role business can play in sustainable economic and social inclusion. Jessica joined the BCA from Reconciliation Australia where she managed the Indigenous governance program and worked as a senior policy adviser. Jessica has also worked for the Coordinator General for Remote Indigenous Services and the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association on governance, health, communications, education and community development issues.



Catherine Stubberfield

Catherine Stubberfield is the External Relations Officer at the Regional Representation of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Canberra. She has worked previously for UNHCR in Ethiopia, Thailand and Sudan, with a particular emphasis on legal policy, refugee protection and inter-agency coordination. Ms. Stubberfield has also worked with UNICEF in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Liberia, as part of her role at the Australian Council for Educational Research. Within Australia, she has held positions with the Australian Refugee Association, Australian Red Cross and the University of South Australia. Ms. Stubberfield has published research in International Refugee Law as well as social norms and equity in education.



Innes Willox

Innes Willox is Chief Executive of the Australian Industry Group, a leading industry organisation representing businesses in a broad range of sectors including manufacturing, defence, ICT and labour hire. Innes served as the Australian Consul General to Los Angeles from 2006 to 2008, He was Chief of Staff to the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, from 2004 to 2006. Earlier, Innes held a number of private sector and government positions including Manager of Global Public Affairs for Singapore Airlines based in Singapore (2000-04).



Carla Wilshire

Carla Wilshire is the CEO of the Migration Council Australia (MCA). The MCA was set up to provide independent research and policy advice on migration, settlement and social cohesion. Ms Wilshire has a background in public policy and has worked as a public servant and advisor to Government on multicultural affairs. She has a background in tertiary research and policy development.


Syria: What we know


12.2 million

people in need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria

7.6 million

internally displaced people inside Syria

4.6 million

people living in hard to reach areas inside Syria


people living in besieged areas

4.1 million

Syrian Refugees in the region

2.1 Million

refugees who are children

89% Refugees

residing in host communities

320,000 killed

since the start of the conflict

Australian Government Logo

The Australian government has committed to resettle an additional 12,000 Syrian refugees.


How to get involved

Participating in the Friendly Nation Initiative gives businesses the opportunity to become leaders and play an active role in the resettlement of refugees. By partnering with settlement services, businesses can meet their own needs whilst engaging in meaningful corporate social responsibility programs.

The business world has many ways to contribute and commit assistance. The Friendly Nation Initiative is the start of a process that recognises the role Australian business leaders must play alongside government and community leaders to tackle this global crisis. It recognises that most Australians want to help – the same Australians that are your employees, your customers, and your future investors.

We recognise that your company is unique and we welcome the opportunity to work with you to develop a tailored package of support. We recognise that different companies have distinctive strengths and operate at different capacities.




  • Fund raise within the workforce (casual day, workforce deductions or shared meal)
  • Host a cultural awareness seminar to increase understanding of the Syrian Situation (MCA can coordinate this through your local settlement provider in every state and territory)
  • Corporate Volunteering/ Mentoring



  • Offer industry mentoring such as job ready placements
  • Help retrain or assist refugees in navigating the path to skills recognition
  • Donate services such as banking support services, business planning and related services



  • Offer employment training programs to refugees such as traineeships supported by settlement services
  • Sponsor a project or program to assist refugees to settle and gain valuable skills to increase their ability to participate in the workforce
  • Recruit other businesses from your B2B network to pledge to the campaign

Download the Fact Sheet

1Mb PDF file

Download the Prospectus

3.5Mb PDF file

For more information contact

Migration Council Australia

Suite 23-34 Level 4,
28 University Ave
Canberra ACT 2601


PO Box 1895
ACT 2600


Phone: +61 (2) 6162 0361