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Thursday, 14 February 2013
Page: 1572

U naccompanied Humanitarian Minor Program

(Question No. 1312)

Ms Gambaro asked the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, in writing, on 28 November 2012:

Would the Minister provide the details of all analysis or assessments undertaken by the department from 1 December 2007 to date, to determine the capacity of the existing care and support framework for Unaccompanied Humanitarian Minors (UHMs), including the capacity of service providers to adequately provide for the needs of UHMs.

Mr Brendan O'Connor: The answers to the honourable member's question is:

Until December 2009, guardianship of all UHMs receiving services under the UHM Program was delegated by the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship to state and territory governments.

In 2009, following an increase in the number of UHM IMA arrivals, the Department considered an expanded range of service options. It was noted that, unlike the historical UHM caseload, IMA UHMs generally arrived without any family to care for them, and required significantly different support services from previous arrivals.

An assessment of client needs and existing service and funding models in 2009 led to the Department contracting a non-government organisation, Life Without Barriers (LWB), to provide 24 hour care and accommodation for IMA UHMs without family or community members to care for them, so as to ensure that the Minister's obligations as guardian were fully met. LWB was initially contracted to provide services to UHMs in Western Australia and Queensland.

The Department also gave consideration to the possibility of tailoring services to meet the needs of older, more independent UHMs, and in February 2012 the Refugee Youth Support Pilot (RYSP) commenced, with the aim of testing a model of care that focusses on settlement and transition to independent living. The RYSP provides independent, supported living arrangements for approximately 80-90 older UHMs in Queensland, South Australia and Victoria. The RYSP is currently undergoing evaluation.

In addition, in the second half of 2012, the 24-hour LWB service model for IMA UHMs was extended into Victoria and South Australia. This expansion of services has further increased the capacity of the UHM Program to respond to client needs. The expansion recognised that UHMs may establish community links (for example with schools and local services) while living in community detention housing prior to visa grant, as many UAMs now do, and provides further opportunity for UHMs to be settled in the same location after their visa has been granted.

The Department monitors the delivery of services by LWB and RYSP providers through reporting, meetings, departmental visits to service provider premises and properties, and regular (often daily) liaison.

Proposed directions for the guardianship and services framework for UHMs have been the subject of discussions with state and territory governments during 2012, through a sub-committee and working group of the Standing Council on Community and Disability Services' Ministers Advisory Council.