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Statement of Lebanon



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P R I M E M I N I S T E R

FOR MEDIA . TUESDAY, JUNE 30 1981

STATEMENT ON LEBANON

At a recent meeting in Sydney with representatives of the ethnic media I was asked to provide a statement on "what Australia is doing for the Lebanese community".

I was glad to accept this invitation because it gives me the opportunity to tell the Lebanese community about two important matters. First, what the Government has done, and

is doing, to maintain migration facilities for Lebanese applying to come to Australia and to assist the settlement and integration of migrants from the Lebanon into the Australian community. Second. the work of the Australian

Lebanese community in assisting with the settlement and integration of Lebanese migrants.

In response to the plight of residents of Lebanon during the height of-the civil disturbances in Lebanon in 1976 , the Australian Government relaxed the migrant entry criteria

for Lebanese normally resident in Lebanon. The special entry rules were in effect until 31 July 1977 when the situation in Lebanon had improved. About 15,000 Lebanese came to Australia under the relaxed entry criteria and there has been a continuing flow since then.

In the situation in the Lebanon it has been extremely difficult to maintain a migration service to those seeking to come to Australia. The Chancery in Beirut has continued to provide a service to visitor applicants. In order to provide a '

continuing service to migrant applicants we have posted Australian Immigration Officers to Damascus. This has proved to be the best arrangement for the most applicants during

the past few years.

2

The Government recognises that, some Lebanese wishing to migrate to Australia are either unable or unwilling in the current outbreak of civil disturbances to travel to Damascus for interview. We shall keep the situation in the area under close examination and do what is possible though Beirut and Damascus to give a prompt service to applicants. Nearby posts are being asked to facilitate the processing of applications from those with immediate relatives in Australia.

Some Lebanese visitors in Australia have expressed their concern about returning to Lebanon during the hostilities. Applications by them to extend the period of their temporary stay will Joe given sympathetic consideration while serious

civil disturbances continue.

Migrants arriving in Australia today have access to a better and more comprehensive programme of services than there has been in all the past years of immigration to

Australia. Key features of this programme, based largely on recommendations in the Galbally Report on Migrant Services and Programmes, include:

. the initial settlement programme which provides, at migrant centres and community based settlement centres, specially designed on-arrival language courses, orientation and information programmes

. Migrant Resource Centres

. a comprehensive migrant education programme for teaching of English

. the development of ethnic radio and multicultural television services

. increased funding of ethnic community organisations . to assist in the development and operation of welfare services by community organisations on the self-help principle.

The Lebanese community is well-established in Australia. Its members have made a major contribution to the development of our multicultural nation. It has an important role in assisting in the settlement and integration of its newly- arrived members. I am confident that all Australians of Lebanese origin will put aside factional differences based on events'in Lebanon and work together to provide effective welfare services for all members of their community.

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