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Minister disappointed at threats by refugee service



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M e d i a R e l e a s e

MPS 75/96

MINISTER DISAPPOINTED AT THREATS BY REFUGEE SERVICE

The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock has expressed disappointment at the threat by the NSW Refugee and Casework Service (RACS) to end the application assistance it provides to asylum seekers.

"RACS NSW has indicated it will end its application assistance to asylum seekers this Friday after becoming the only service provider unable to reach agreement with my Department over the short-term renewal of a previously negotiated service contract," Mr Ruddock said.

"My Department has successfully reached agreement with other services to fund continuing application assistance to asylum seekers, but RACS in New South Wales has demanded a far larger funding increase than anyone else."

"RACS in Victoria had sought and substantiated a request for a 3% increase in their contract. This has been accepted as reasonable and they will continue to provide services to asylum seekers in Victoria, along with other service providers."

"I am disappointed that RACS in Sydney has decided it can no longer negotiate after demanding a 10% increase, which is well above the CPI.

"We will not negotiate above 3% and will require RACS NSW to substantiate any increase in the value of the contract."

"Officers of my Department remain ready to resume discussions with RACS so that asylum seekers are not inconvenienced by the position taken by the service," Mr Ruddock said.

Government funded application assistance is provided to eligible asylum seekers to help them make refugee claims, both at the primary and review stages. This assists asylum seekers to articulate their claims and contributes towards a fair and efficient

processing system.

"Should RACS carry out its threat to discontinue its assistance, asylum seekers will be directed to other Government-funded service providers in NSW," Mr Ruddock said.

20 November 1996

The Hon. Philip Ruddock MP Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs Parliament House, Canberra ACT 26QfO Telephone: (06) 277 7860 Facsimile: (06) 273 414*4

MEDIA CONTACT: Steve Ingram 0419 278 715 (06) 2777 860