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Tuesday, 29 April 1980
Page: 1944

Senator Chipp asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, upon notice, on 16 April 1980:

(   1) Is the welfare centre, run by the Indo-China Refugee Association in Fitzroy, Victoria, about to close due to exhaustion of funds.

(2)   Is the North Richmond Family Care Centre, also in Victoria, about to lose the services of its only Vietnamesespeaking welfare worker due to non-renewal of a grant from the Federal Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs.

(3)   Will the Minister reconsider the provision of extra funding to allow these and other services to Indo-Chinese refugees to continue.

Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle - The Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator 's question:

(   1 ) to (3) I issued the following news release on 10 April 1980. It provides the information sought.

The Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, Mr Ian Macphee, today announced new initiatives to assist with the settlement of Indo-Chinese refugees in Melbourne.

Mr Macpheesaid he had approved a grant-in-aid to enable the Indo-Chinese Refugee Association (ICRA) to employ a social worker to deal with the welfare problems of Indo-Chinese refugees. "I have also invited the North Richmond Family Care Centre to apply for funding of up to $5,000 to undertake an inter-cultural project to assist in the settlement of IndoChinese refugees in the North Richmond area. "

Mr Macpheeemphasised that the Commonwealth Government was providing a wide range of services to IndoChinese refugees and other migrants around Australia and in the Melbourne area. However public resources were simply not available to meet all the priorities set by community groups. "Our priority expenditure on -a very large scale is to provide intensive English language training and orientation for migrants and refugees", Mr Macphee said. "These programs are probably the most effective of any being conducted around the world for any refugees. They are intended to assist refugees and migrants to have basic English which can be reinforced by continuation classes and to have a basic understanding of Australian society and the services available to refugees."

Mr Macpheeadded that the Commonwealth Government had provided grants-in-aid to several agencies which were intended to enable hosting and friendship activities to be provided for refugees as well as welfare services for them. "The additional grant to ICRA will reinforce those activities and assist that organisation to pursue its very worthwhile activities."

The Minister added that the Commonwealth Employment Service provided a Vietnamese interpreter for periods each week in the Richmond area and a Vietnamese doctor was available to see the bulk of Vietnamese patients in that area. The Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs had continued to provide an officer for a period each week to help settlement arrangements for Indo-Chinese refugees in the Richmond area. All welfare agencies and voluntary bodies involved with Indo-Chinese refugees had access to the Department's Telephone Interpreter Service. Refugees themselves were instructed on how to use the Telephone Interpreter Service and could make use of its services as needed.

Mr Macpheesaid that there had been references in the Melbourne press to the work of Mr Thien Do with the North Richmond Family Care Centre. Mr Thien Do was an engineer who had taken a personal interest in providing assistance to refugees. He had been a contract interpreter with the Telephone Interpreter Service until January this year and had been allocated for as least one day a week by the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs to the North Richmond Family Care Centre. He had resigned from the Telephone Interpreter Service in January 1980 to work with the Centre. There had been no commitment by the Commonwealth Government to provide funding to enable his employment with the Centre. In a situation where available resources had to be allocated to provide the best possible service for refugees, it had been determined, after detailed investigation that a grant-in-aid should be provided to ICRA rather than to the North Richmond Family Care Centre. '

Regarding (2), the North Richmond Family Care Centre has never been funded by the Department to employ a welfare worker. The question of the non-renewal of a grant has not arisen.

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