Page 485 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 23 March 2022

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It is evident that this distress is also compounded by the evolving global pandemic and its wide-ranging impacts, which continue to stretch health services and impact communities in all nations. Living in Canberra, it is hard to fathom the crippling devastation experienced by displaced individuals and families during war and conflict. We are a community built on a firm foundation of empathy, of inclusion and of supporting each other, and it is imperative to join in solidarity with those affected abroad and their loved ones here in the ACT.

The ACT recommenced receiving humanitarian arrivals in August 2021, with the arrival of people evacuated from Afghanistan and special humanitarian visa holders from a range of countries. We have welcomed over 120 individuals evacuated from Afghanistan since then. The Department of Home Affairs has advised that more people on humanitarian visas will be settling in the ACT, in addition to recently arrived Afghan evacuees. We stand ready to welcome any Ukrainians as part of this arrival, and into the future.

This week it was important for us to join with the UNHCR Cities #WithRefugees campaign. By signing the statement of solidarity, we will join more than 250 cities worldwide who are committed to embracing refugees and supporting their settlement in their new home. This is a statement of our local commitment, but cities standing together reflects our global solidarity. This is further reflected in our commitment as a refugee welcome zone from 2015 and our work in being accredited as a welcoming city.

Many Canberrans will know how distressing it is to lose contact with family and friends who live a long way away. In crises, organisations such as the Red Cross help people to connect with affected family members overseas. I encourage all Canberrans to help promote and share links to the Red Cross family tracing service to support those who have been caught up in conflict and disaster. It is a free service and it is a confidential service which can help to find family members missing as a result of war, disaster or migration. It provides assistance to send a message to a relative where there is no formal means of communication and it also checks on the welfare of a relative overseas who cannot be reached due to illness or other circumstances.

There are also a range of supports available to affected communities in Canberra, including tailored providers for advice and support on ACT government services and where to access counselling services. The Community Services Directorate in the ACT government provides a range of services and programs to support people, including financial and counselling support. That is through our multicultural community partners including the Multicultural Hub, Migrant and Refugee Settlement Services and the Australian Red Cross.

To all Canberrans affected by the impacts of war and conflict, please know that the broader Canberra community is standing with you and your loved ones. For anyone impacted and needing immediate help to talk through their thoughts and feelings, we encourage you to connect with organisations such as Lifeline on 13 11 14. The Safe Haven at Belconnen Community Health Centre provides a safe, welcoming and supportive environment for people experiencing emotional distress to access support

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