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New migrants denied welfare benefits highlighted by AUSTCARE Media Awards.

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Senator Andrew Bartlett

Australian Democrats Immigration Spokesperson


8 OCTOBER 1999




New migrants denied welfare benefits

highlighted by AUSTCARE Media Awards


The AUSTCARE Media Awards highlighted the positive role the media ca n play in enhancing understanding of the situation of refugees, according to Senator Andrew Bartlett, the Australian Democrats’ spokesperson on immigration and multiculturalism.


The winner of the AUSTCARE Media Awards was Sydney journalist David Leser for an article about changes to the law regarding migrants’ access to welfare benefits including the Special Benefit, called “Welcome to Australia” which was printed in the Sydney Morning Herald Weekend Australian magazine.


Senator Bartlett said the award should encourage the Government to reinstate Special Benefits for migrants.


“Through the media Australians are made aware of the human impact of government decisions.”


As mentioned in the article, the Democrats opposed the introduction of the two year waiting period for newly arrived migrants for all social security benefits including the ‘last resort’ special benefit. This measure built on the six month waiting period initially introduced by the Labor Party.


After hearing many stories of newly arrived migrants suffering from malnutrition, unable to access safe or suitable accommodation and unable to afford to care for or adequately feed their children, the Democrats moved an amendment to have the Special Benefit exempted from the two year waiting period in the Senate. Labor and the government opposed this amendment.


The awards, held last night, recognise outstanding contributions in generating awareness of the plight of refugees. Senator Bartlett presented the award in the radio category.


“It is through the media that most Australians become aware of what is happening to refugees or new migrants living in their own communities,” said Senator Bartlett.




For interview contact, Senator Andrew Bartlett on 0418 743 789



att  1999-10-11  09:34