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Volunteers 'pivotal' in successful migration.

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Volunteers 'Pivotal' in Successful Migration MPS 062/2001

Thousands of volunteers from all sorts of backgrounds have played a pivotal role in the success of Australia's migration and humanitarian programs, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock, said today.

Mr Ruddock was speaking in Sydney to mark the International Year of Volunteers and the work of volunteers in helping to welcome and settle newcomers to Australia.

"I am proud to recognise and acknowledge the vast range of important work carried out by many thousands of volunteers participating in the department's programs," Mr Ruddock said.

"Their commitment and care is vital to our key programs, such as the Community Refugee Settlement Scheme, the Community Settlement Services Scheme, the Migrant Resource Centres and Migrant Service Agencies program, and the Adult Migrant English Program.

"As well as volunteers working directly with the Department, there are thousands more who help us by helping the organisations the Government funds.

"This includes Migrant Resource Centres, which deliver settlement services to migrants. Many such organisations rely extensively on volunteers to deliver cost-effective and friendly, socially supportive services to migrants.

"Also, many ethnic associations and cultural bodies rely extensively on volunteers to play their part in building the richness and diversity of Australian society.

"The Community Refugee Settlement Scheme Volunteers is a striking example of the value of volunteer effort. In the last 20 years, these tireless workers have helped more than 55,000 people, many with severely disrupted lives, to become part of our community."

Mr Ruddock said the Adult Migrant English Program, which last year helped 36,000 new arrivals from 99 language backgrounds to acquire English language skills, benefited greatly from volunteer's skills.

"Some 3000 volunteers carry out the AMEP's Home Tutor Scheme, providing one-to-one tutoring, conversation groups and cultural and social activities so important in successful settlement."

26 May 2001 Media Contact: Steve Ingram 0419 278 715

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