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Good news for ethnic communities in 1994/95 Budget



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MEDIA RELEASE MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND ETHNIC AFFAIRS AND MINISTER ASSISTING THE PRIME MINISTER FOR MULTICULTURAL AFFAIRS

Senator Nick Bolkus

B24/94

Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600 (06) 277 7860

GOOD NEWS FOR ETHNIC COMMUNITIES IN 1994/95 BUDGET

The 1994/95 Budget contains important initiatives for the one in four Australians of non-English speaking background, the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, Senator Nick Bolkus, said today.

"Once again, the Government has delivered a Budget which has at its core the principle of social justice for all Australians," Senator Bolkus said.

"As well as increased funding in the Immigration and Ethnic Affairs' portfolio for Citizenship initiatives and settlement assistance (outlined in yesterday's press release), the Budget has specifically targetted ethnic communities in key areas such

as health, social security and communications.

"I am particularly pleased that the Government has recognised in a number of ways the special needs of refugees and others coming to Australia under our Humanitarian Program.

"Among the landmark reforms in the provision of mental health services, for example, is a $5.2m four-year pilot program to help refugees who have suffered torture and trauma.

"The Government is serious about addressing the long-term health and psychological problems facing many such survivors as they resettle in Australia.

"The program will provide support and advocacy to help them to use existing health services, with advocates educating health providers about the special problems associated with treating survivors of torture and trauma.

"Another initiative for refugees - this time in the area of

social security - is the removal of the requirement for them to have lived in Australia for a set period of time to qualify for pensions.

"This recognises the fact that, unlike other migrants, refugees do not have a choice when leaving their home country and are

likely to have greater resettlement difficulties," he said.

"About 600 refugee sole parents, 1,400 with disabilities and 5, 000 of age pension age will benefit from this change in January and it is estimated that a further 300 refugee sole parents, 400 refugees with disabilities and 2,000 of age pension age will benefit over the following three years."

The Budget also extends triennial funding for SBS and provides increased funding of $1 million per year over three years. \ "SBS Television is expected to reach an extra half a million Australians as a result," Senator Bolkus said.

"This will not only help make multicultural services more

accessible to non-English speaking background people in remote and rural areas, but will increase awareness among all

Australians of the benefits of our culturally diverse society."

CANBERRA MAY 11 1994

Contact: Ruth Dewsbury (06) 277 7860