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Wednesday, 13 May 1987
Page: 3104

Mr MILLAR —On behalf of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, I present the first report of 1987, relating to the redevelopment of migrant accommodation facilities, Wacol, Queensland, and I seek the leave of the House to make a short statement in connection with the report.

Leave granted.

Mr MILLAR —I thank the House. The Committee believes that a need exists to reduce migrant centre costs, while maintaining the level of support services required. The proposed conversion of accommodation units to self-contained, self-catering units should assist in refugees remaining at migrant centres for longer periods than at present, thus enhancing the prospects of effective assimilation.

The Committee recommends that the concept of self-contained, self-catering accommodation should be adopted for migrant centres throughout Australia, subject to the satisfactory evaluation of the Pennington Centre in South Australia. The Committee also recommends that the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs take follow-up action on how to address the wider issues involved in the premature departure of refugees from migrant centres, often occasioned by an understandable sense of isolation from their own kind.

Although redevelopment of the present site is cheaper in capital cost and in long term operating costs than the alternatives considered by the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, the Committee is not convinced that Wacol is the best location for the migrant centre. A site closer to pubic transport and community facilities may be more conducive to refugees staying at Wacol for longer periods of time. The Committee recommends that the project should not proceed at Wacol and that the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs further investigate sites closer to public transport and facilities as possible alternatives.

The Committee is concerned over the redundancy of the five-year-old kitchen/dining facility. The Committee believes that it may be premature to convert this facility to other uses before the new concept has been fully tested. The Committee recommends that further consideration be given to the future use of the kitchen/dining facility.