Australia government consults on size of humanitarian immigration programme

by Ray Clancy on February 19, 2016

in Australia Immigration

People in Australia are being asked to provide submissions to be considered in the planning and development of Australia’s Humanitarian Programme for 2016/2017.

The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton said the consultation process will inform the Government’s decision about the size and composition of the programme.

“Australia has a proud record of resettling refugees and people in humanitarian need from around the world,” Dutton said but he has come under attack for dragging his feet in resettling refugees fleeing from war in Syria and Iraq.

immigration-refugee

Dutton pointed out that since 1947 Australia has welcomed more than 825,000 people from different countries under the Humanitarian Programme in response to changing global resettlement needs.

The programme provides permanent resettlement to those most in need, who are in desperate situation overseas, including in refugee camps and protracted humanitarian situations.

Dutton pointed out that Australia is one of only a small number of countries that operate an annual permanent resettlement programme and ranks in the top three resettlement countries each year, along with the United States and Canada,

The Government has committed to increase the size of the Humanitarian Programme from the current level of 13,750 places up to 16,250 places in 2017/2018 and 18,750 places in 2018/2019.

In September 2015, the Government announced an additional 12,000 places to resettle people displaced by conflicts in Syria and Iraq but figures show that just 26 Syrian refugees have arrived since then and the Refugee Council of Australia says the government should be attacking more quickly.

Dutton said the pace of resettlements was determined on national security grounds. “The Australian public demands that the government does everything possible to make sure that first and foremost our national security is protected and secondly to make sure that we’re bringing the right people into our country so that they can start a new life,” he explained.

“Our government is dragging its feet while the rest of the world is acting much more quickly to meet their promises. It is a shame for all concerned that the Australian resettlement programme is so bogged down in bureaucratic delays, when the governments of Canada and New Zealand have proven that it is possible to move much more swiftly,” said Refugee Council chief executive officer Paul Power.

“Canada has resettled 20,490 refugees from the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts in less than half the time that Australia has taken to resettle just 26 people. New Zealand has already resettled 82 of the 200 Syrian refugees it plans to resettle by the end of June. Many organisations are desperate to help the increased resettlement plan and they have been left in the lurch,” he explained.

“Some of the non-government organisations engaged by the government as contractors for post-arrival services for refugees have hired staff, secured additional housing and organised other assistance in the expectation that the refugees would have begun to arrive in large numbers some months ago, as the government had previously indicated. These organisations are now bearing the costs of the government’s delay,” he pointed out.

“We know that there is no shortage of appropriate applications. Thousands were received from UNHCR and through relatives and communities in Australia in the three months following the Government’s September announcement,” he added.

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