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Tuesday, 6 December 1983
Page: 3341

Question No. 150

Dr Charlesworth asked the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, upon notice, on 17 May 1983:

(1) How many Vietnamese refugees are living in the electoral division of Perth.

(2) What level of assistance has been granted to these refugees since their arrival.

(3) Can he indicate how many refugees are currently receiving (a) unemployment, (b) sickness, (c) special and (d) supporting benefits.

Mr West —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) The most recent reliable figures are based on the June 1981 Census. It shows 1315 Vietnamese-born persons in the Perth electoral division. The majority of these would have arrived in Australia as refugees.

(2) All refugees including those from Vietnam are eligible for the full range of pensions, benefits and allowance from the Department of Social Security on the same basis as any other resident of Australia, although part of an unemployment, sickness or special benefit payable to a refugee residing in a Commonwealth accommodation centre may be paid to the centre to cover the cost of accommodation.

Refugees who do not immediately qualify for a statutory pension or benefit under the Social Security Act may be paid a special benefit. Special benefit is payable at the discretion of the Director-General of Social Security to a person who is not eligible for any other pension or benefit and is unable to earn a sufficient livelihood for himself and his dependants, if any. Normally, in recognition of the particular circumstances applying to newly arrived refugees, special benefit is paid for the four weeks from date of arrival in Australia. This benefit is paid at a rate equivalent to the appropriate rate of unemployment benefit. At the end of the four week period, the refugee is usually transferred to unemployment benefit but special benefit may be continued where appropriate.

English language courses are provided for non-English speaking migrants and refugees on arrival in Australia. Many of those attending classes are entitled to an education living allowance equivalent to, and replacing, Unemployment Benefit.

The community refugee settlement scheme (CRSS) provides an alternative to accommodating newly arrived refugees in Migrant Centres. Under CRSS, refugees are moved directly into the community where they are assisted by the individuals , groups and organisations who have volunteered to provide a range of support and assistance. Sponsor groups receive a grant from Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs for second and subsequent sponsorships.

The clothing reimbursement scheme is administered by voluntary agencies, which may apply for reimbursement of up to $50 in respect of each person assisted. Refugees are entitled to assistance under the scheme if they are in need of clothing and personal requisites upon arrival in Australia.

The Committee for Allocation of Loans for Refugees in Centres (CALFRIC) administers a revolving interest free loan scheme, repayable over 2 year, which assists refugees to move from the migrant centres into outside accommodaton as soon as possible. A loan of up to $600 may be provided to a couple with children ; up to $250 for a couple without children and up to $100 for a single person.

Adults responsible for the care and maintenance of refugee children without parents in Australia are entitled to family allowance and may also be eligible for double orphan's pension. Both benefits are paid by the Department of Social Security. Certain refugee children without parents or close adult relatives in Australia, who have become Wards of the Minister under the Immigration ( Guardianship of Children) Act receive a maintenance allowance from Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. This is paid at a rate of $45 per week for those living independently or in institutional care and $30 per week for those living with a caregiver.

The Perth Office of Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs employs a Vietnamese welfare worker and provides other services including the Telephone Interpreter Service (TIS) and an information centre with bilingual information officers. Other agencies which are funded by Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and provide services to Vietnamese and all other migrants include Perth Asian Community Centre, North Perth Migrant Resource Centre and Centrecare . In addition, the Free Vietnamese Fraternity Association of Western Australia has recently received a Grant-in-Aid to employ a welfare worker.

(3) The Department of Social Security advises that this information is not available.