More women and their families who have fled persecution are being given visas to stay in Australia under the country’s refugee programme, it has been revealed.
Australia’s contribution of resettling almost 14,500 refugee women and their families over 25 years of the women at risk programme is being celebrated as part of Refugee Week 2014.
Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Scott Morrison, said Refugee Week, with its theme of ‘Restoring Hope’, was a fitting occasion to celebrate Australia’s generous humanitarian programme.
‘This government’s successful border protection policies that are stopping the boats and preventing deaths at sea is resulting in a human dividend with a further 20,000 Special Humanitarian Programme places being made available, out to 2017/2018,’ he said.
He pointed out that the programme aims to deliver 16,000 places over the budget estimates period with more than 4,000 in the current financial year.
‘Australia continues to be one of the top three refugee resettlement countries, as well as being one of only a small number of countries that manage dedicated refugee settlement programmes for women at risk and their dependants,’ he explained.
‘While refugees face persecution and human rights abuses around the world, refugee women and their children are at even greater risk, particularly if they have become victims of gender-based violence, exploitation and abuse. It is estimated that more than half of the world’s refugees are women and children, so it is timely to mark 25 years of Australia’s dedication to resettling vulnerable women and their families,’ he pointed out.
Last year, the government increased the woman at risk quota to 1,000 places, representing about 15% of all refugee places in the humanitarian programme, and this will be maintained for the 2014/2015 financial year.
‘Since the end of World War II, more than 800,000 refugees and others in humanitarian need have been resettled in Australia, [helping] to shape Australia into what it is today,’ said Morrison.
‘The government remains strongly committed to the humanitarian programme as an expression of Australia’s role as an international partner in sharing refugee protection responsibilities,’ he added Morrison said.
Refugee Week runs from June 15 to 21 and coincides with World Refugee Day on June 20. Refugee Week has been celebrated in Australia since the 1980s and a wide range of community events and activities are planned around the country in celebration.