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Democrats call for help for refugees and charities.

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Senator Andrew Bartlett Senator for Queensland Australian Democrats spokesperson for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs

Press Release Dated: 18 May 2000 Press Release Number: 00/281 Portfolio: Immigration and Multicultural Affairs Related: Welfare and Community


Democrats call for help for refugees and charities The Australian Democrats have accused the Federal Immigration Minister of depriving refugees of essential services such as housing, clothing and English classes.

Democrat Immigration spokesperson, Senator Andrew Bartlett said, “Refugees would normally be given assistance with accommodation for 12 weeks and English classes to get them started, but the Government has denied this to refugees on temporary protection visas.

“These refugees are not allowed the same access to community services as other Australians. They are just being dumped in the community. The Government's hardline on refugees is increasing the burden on charities.”

Leaders at the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference in Sydney yesterday were told a Catholic agency in Brisbane had to accommodate over 70 people in the Seminary and were running out of space and resources.

Mr Ruddock has said that states are not expected to provide accommodation, health or language services to genuine refugees on temporary visas when they are released into the community. Reports from community and state government organisations are that the Immigration Department has written asking them not to provide assistance to refugees on temporary visas.

“The Government is now openly saying that, even though these people are refugees fleeing genuine persecution, we are going to give them as little assistance as possible,” said Senator Bartlett.

“Statements by Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock are, effectively, encouraging state governments to let genuine refugees live on the streets,” said Senator Bartlett.

“Premier Peter Beattie should do the right thing by the refugees and the broader community. The Federal Government may be willing to abdicate its moral, social and economic responsibilities, but that just increases the responsibility on the State Government.

“We should accept the need to provide haven for genuine refugees. Australia has a moral responsibility to ensure that we are not sending people back to persecution or death.

“Refugees have the best record of all migrants in terms of the long-term contribution they make to Australia, yet the Federal Government is trying to prevent them from making that contribution.

“Because the Government has inaccurately branded them ‘illegal immigrants’, some people in the community are scared to give them jobs or housing. The average age of these refugees is 21.

“The best thing for Australia is to grant new refugees permanent residency and full access to humanitarian support services,” concluded Senator Bartlett.


Top | Email Authorised by: Jim Downey, 10 Brisbane Avenue, Barton ACT 2604. Copyright © 2000 Australian Democrats Last modified: Thu, 18 May 2000 13:51:26 Today: Thu, 18 May 2000 14:02:22