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Tuesday, 16 November 2004
Page: 89

Senator Allison asked the Minister representing the Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, upon notice, on 16 June 2004:

(1) Is the Minister aware that the Kurdish Association of Victoria, which is funded by the Community Settlement Services Scheme, has been successfully providing settlement assistance to migrants, refugees and humanitarian entrants in Victoria since 1988.

(2) Does the Minister agree that without the help of the Community Settlement Services Scheme's provision of culturally-sensitive and ethno-specific services, including assistance with access to Centrelink services, referral to community health centres, access to childcare etc., these vulnerable and disadvantaged members of the community would probably be even more marginalised.

(3) Does the Minister agree that the settlement needs of the Kurdish community are ongoing and that, given the current instability in the Middle East, the arrival of Kurdish refugees is not likely to abate in the immediate future.

(4) Why has funding for the position of `Grant in Aid Worker' with the Kurdish Association of Victoria been cut.

Senator Vanstone (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Reconciliation) —The Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) The Kurdish Association of Victoria has received funding from the Community Settlement Services Scheme (CSSS) and its predecessor program, the Grant in Aid (GIA) scheme since 1992-1993.

(2) The Government seeks, at any point in time, to ensure that the combination of services funded through the CSSS and the Migrant Resource Centre (MRC)/Migrant Service Agency (MSA) network are appropriate to meet the settlement needs of newly arrived migrants, refugee and humanitarian entrants.

(3) In the period 1 July 1999 to 30 June 2004, 988 Kurdish migrants arrived in Australia. Of the 988 Kurdish migrant arrivals nationally, only 196 settled in Victoria. In 2004-05 under the Humanitarian Program it is expected that 25 per cent of entrants will be from the Middle East; while the proportion of Kurdish arrivals in 2004-05 is unknown, the number of arrivals nationally has declined from 247 in 2000-01 to 152 in 2003-04.

(4) The GIA scheme ceased in 1996 and was replaced in 1997 by the CSSS. CSSS funding is limited and aims to address the most pressing settlement needs. Funding is not recurrent or guaranteed. The application process every year is very competitive. There was keen interest in the 2004-05 CSSS round, with the Department receiving 328 applications Australia-wide. Each application is assessed on its merits against advertised eligibility and assessment criteria and against the relative priorities of the needs applicants proposed to address. In 2004-05 the Department was able to fund 229 applications. Funding was offered to a broad range of community organisations across different regions to provide maximum benefit and access to settlement services for migrants, refugee and humanitarian entrants.

Given the increasing numbers of small and diverse immigrant groups in Australia, it is necessary for some small groups to be served by more generalist settlement service providers such as MRCs/MSAs, which are able to cater for a wider range of communities. The Northern and North West MRCs have established outposts in the local government areas of Moreland and Hume, where the Victorian Kurdish community has predominantly settled, and members of the Kurdish community are accessing their services. Some settlement services are also provided to the Kurdish women in Victoria by Dianella Community Health, a CSSS funded organisation.