Page 4673 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 19 October 2011

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Committee, we were told that such a system for asylum seekers could be better facilitated. So it is very positive to have a card that will streamline and significantly improve access to the services that people are currently entitled to in the ACT.

In regard to the rollout, I am pleased to inform the Assembly that Companion House has agreed to administer the access cards through the 12-month pilot program. It is great to be partnering with a local organisation that is so respected in the field of asylum seeker and refugee support.

I understand that there has been a high level of interest in the community about the access card, and the department has already received numerous requests for further information from members of the ACT community.

We know that many asylum seekers have been through very difficult experiences in their lives. I genuinely hope that this card will make a difference to them here in Canberra when accessing services.

DR BOURKE: Minister, can you advise when the access cards started being issued and how they are being promoted in the community?

MS BURCH: I thank Dr Bourke again. As I have said, there has been a lot of interest in the community already and the implementation of the access card is progressing well. The first batch of cards has been printed and was provided to Companion House for distribution late last week. I understand that they have already provided four asylum seekers with cards and that a number more have an assessment meeting scheduled for this week.

Dr Bourke: Hear, hear!

MS BURCH: It is a good outcome. I am sure that that will take up continuing increases as information on the campaign continues. In regard to this information campaign, it includes the release of a fact sheet to all government directorates and has also been provided to point of contact locations, such as Canberra Connect and ACT libraries, for distribution.

I am pleased that, in addition to this, a broad information campaign is being organised within the local community sector to help reach clients in need. Fact sheets are being provided to community groups and migrant and refugee services. The cards also have website addresses on the back in case service providers or asylum seekers wish to double-check any details about their entitlement.

This is a card that will make a real difference to asylum seekers in our community. I look forward to updating the Assembly again in the coming months about the positive outcomes.

Live in Canberra campaign

MR SMYTH: Minister, how many non-English-speaking countries has the Live in Canberra campaign visited since it was initiated?

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