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1996-97 Humanitarian Program



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

The Hon. Philip Ruddock MP Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs Telephone: (06) 2 7 7 7860- Facsimile: (06) 2 7 3 4 1 4 4

MPS 28/96 '

1996-97 HUMANITARIAN PROGRAM

Australia's 1996-97 Humanitarian Program will consist o f a total o f 12,000 offshore places and 2,000 onshore places, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock, announced today.

"This includes the 2,000 offshore places already brought forward or borrowed from the Program by the former Government and compares with the original Program of 13,000 offshore places for 1995-96," Mr Ruddock said.

"In its election commitments, the Government stated it would maintain a separate Humanitarian Program and not reduce the refugee component of that Program. We have delivered on that commitment because we take our international obligations very seriously."

The Humanitarian ProgrSm will have three components:

• Refugee: for people who meet the United Nations Convention definition of a refugee - 3,335 places have been allocated, in addition to the 665 places brought forward and already taken (a total o f 4,000); • Special Humanitarian Program: for people who have suffered discrimination or other

violations o f their human rights but are not refugees - 2,133 places have been allocated in addition to the 667 places already taken; (a total o f 2,800) and, • Special Assistance Category: for those in vulnerable positions overseas and who have close links with Australia - 4,532 places have been allocated, in addition to the 668 places

already taken, (a total o f 5,200)

The Refugee and Special Humanitarian categories remain unchanged from the original 1995-96 levels, after taking into account the bring forward. The reduction o f 1,000 places in the net level is in the Special Assistance Category, reflecting an easing o f conflicts and tension in areas o f the

world addressed by this category.

"Priority in the Humanitarian Program will continue to be given to the regions o f the former Yugoslavia, the Middle East and Africa," Mr Ruddock said.

"Those in the greatest need will be assisted. Our priorities take close account o f the needs for humanitarian resettlement identified by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and communities within Australia."

"I have recently reviewed the Special Assistance Category and have begun considering the detailed allocation of places, based on the international situation and community support."

The 2,000 places allocated onshore will provide for the estimated number of people granted permanent residence as a result o f meeting the United Nations' refugee criteria in Australia. Should on-shore grants exceed 2,000, the excess will be absorbed into the offshore program, so that humanitarian resettlement services can properly meet needs.

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SYDNEY MEDIA CONTACT: 3 July 1996 Steve Ingram (06) 277 7860

HUMANITARIAN PROGRAM 1995-96 AND 1996-97

CATEGORY/COM PONENT Places 1995-96* Bring

Forward**

Places 1996-97***

Refugee 4,000 665 3,335

(4,000)

Special Humanitarian Program 2,800 667 2,133

(2,800)

Special Assistance Category 6,200 668 4,532

(5,200)

TOTAL O ff shore Program 13,000 2,000 10,000

(12,000)

Onshore refugee* 2,000

TOTAL PLACES 13,000 12,000

(14,000)

* Source: News release from Senator Bolkus, 11 May 1995. ** The term "bring forward" was used in news release - Senator Bolkus 24 October 1995 *** Figures in brackets are the total allocations, including the places already taken by the bring forward or "borrowing" o f 2,000 humanitarian places by the former Government.

ft While there have been onshore refugee applicants in previous years, they have not been counted as part o f the Humanitarian Program

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON THE 1996-97 HUMANITARIAN PROGRAM 1. Have we kept our commitments on the 1996-97 H umanitarian P rogram ?

The answer is yes!

Commitment: "The Refugee and Humanitarian Program will be maintained as a separate program."

Outcome: The Refugee and Humanitarian Program for 1996-97 is being maintained as a separate program. ✓ Commitment honoured.

Commitment: "The refugee component of the Program will not be reduced."

Outcome: Refugees make up just one

component o f the Humanitarian Program. In 1995-96, they comprised 4,000 offshore places. In 1996-97, they will again comprise 4,000 offshore places, although some have already been taken. ✓ Commitment honoured.

(The 1996-97 Humanitarian Program has a total of 12,000 off-shore places allocated. It includes 2,000 places brought forward or borrowed from the 1996­ 97 Program by the former Government. The 2,000 places have already been taken, but belong to 1996­ 97. Within the 2,000 places are 665 set aside for refugees.

This accords with statements by the former Labor Minister on 27 November 1995 before Senate Estimates. When questioned about the possible size of next year's program, he said "You will have a (1996-97 Humanitarian) program of 13,000, o f which 11,000 will be processed through 1996-97..."

Using this same argument, the 1996-97 Refugee component of the Humanitarian Program is 4,000, of which 3,333 will be processed through 1996-97.)

Commitment: "The efficiency and equity of Special Assistance Categories will be reviewed."

Outcome: The efficiency and equity of the practice o f establishing ad hoc SACs has been reviewed by the Minister to ensure the legitimate claims other humanitarian applicants are not unfairly disadvantaged. The composition of the new SAC categories will be released shortly.

✓ Commitment honoured.

2. H ow does the 1996-97 offshore

Humanitarian Program compare with THE PREVIOUS YEAR?

The 1996-97 offshore Humanitarian Program in total, has 1,000 fewer places than the 1995-96 Program. '

The reduction has occurred in the Special Assistance Category and reflects the easing in conflicts and tensions addressed by this

category.

The 1995-96 Humanitarian Program was set at 13.000 places by the former Government. The 1996-97 offshore Humanitarian Program has 12.000 places, o f which 2,000 have already been taken, because of the "bring forward" by the former Labour Government.

(see Senate Estimates above)

3. WHO IS A REFUGEE?

The United Nations Convention defines a refugee as:

• People who have fled their country of

nationality or their usual country of

residence; and

• are unable or unwilling to return or to seek the protection of that country because o f a well-founded fear o f persecution for reasons o f race, religion, nationality,

membership of a particular social group or political opinion.

Refugees are just one component o f Australia's Humanitarian Program. It is wrong to talk about the Humanitarian Program as being all refugees.

Many people misuse the terminology refugee to refer to anyone in a vulnerable position either in Australia or overseas. This devalues the

seriousness o f the plight o f refugees around the world. I