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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 24 June 2010) . . Page.. 2437 ..

MS BURCH: I thank Mr Hargreaves for his question. Since 2001, World Refugee Day has been observed on 20 June each year, and it is a day dedicated to raising awareness of the situation of refugees throughout the world. I hope members would have noticed the World Refugee Day flags raised around the city and over Commonwealth Avenue and Kings Avenue bridges. This year’s theme is “Home”, and that is how we want the 200 or so refugees who come to live in Canberra each year to feel.

We have done this since 1986, and this year the ACT has celebrated World Refugee Day with events across the city and the weeks before and after. In 2010, World Refugee Week involved a range of events and activities for the fortnight before World Refugee Day. Oxfam refugee reality project ran at Stage 88, and it presented a compelling experience of some of the hurdles faced by refugees.

Catholic Care’s new arrivals and humanitarian schemes and Multicultural Youth Services ran a creative arts competition inviting refugees to share their stories and thoughts of the refugee experience through painting, drawing, story telling, sewing or music. I look forward to hearing who are the winners.

St John’s church, Kippax, with the Refugee Resettlement Committee, offered dedicated masses, and on 15 June, the Canberra Refugee Support group presented student scholarships to encourage and support outstanding student refugees.

Yesterday I was delighted to attend the Migrant and Refugee Settlement Services open day and career expo. MARSS enjoys a successful track record in assisting refugees and migrants. From June of last year to March of this year, 112 clients registered for job assistance, and 77 per cent of them have been employed in casual, part-time or full-time work.

MS PORTER: Supplementary, Mr Speaker?

MR SPEAKER: Ms Porter, a supplementary question.

MS PORTER: Minister, how does the ACT government work with the community sector to support the settlement of refugees and asylum seekers in the ACT? Have you seen opposition members involved in this work as well?

MS BURCH: I thank Ms Porter for her question. The ACT government is committed to working with the community sector to implement policies and programs that help refugees and asylum seekers to settle in our community and to call Canberra home.

I am happy to report that there is a strong and enthusiastic community sector support and buy-in for these policies and programs that assist refugees to settle in our city. This means the ACT government is not alone in creating this welcoming and supportive environment. Indeed, the ACT government is committed to working in partnership with community groups and settlement services and providers to make Canberra a place for refugees and asylum seekers.

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