Page 2707 - Week 09 - Thursday, 8 August 2013

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Of course, they do come with a wide range of skills. I have talked to Iranian refugees that have been hydraulic engineers. They have a wide range of skills, but those skills normally are not recognised in Australia, so it is quite difficult to place them in the jobs that they have been used to working in.

Another supporter has been Pat Seear from Seears Workwear, who supplied some of those refugees with the appropriate high-vis and work safety gear that is needed. The MTA ACT has placed them in employment in the automotive industry across Canberra. Waves Car Wash and Phillip auto detailing have also been of great assistance.

I congratulate those groups and I hope they continue that hard work to support refugees in the ACT. I commend the amendment to the Assembly.

MS BURCH (Brindabella—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Disability, Children and Young People, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Women, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Racing and Gaming) (11.43): I would like to commend Mr Corbell for his proposed amendment to this motion. I echo my colleagues’ words about the ACT Labor government’s commitment to supporting refugees and asylum seekers in our community.

As the Minister for Multicultural Affairs, I have the opportunity to work closely with some of our community partners who do a fantastic job in supporting some of our most vulnerable. In particular, I would like to thank some of the key organisations that work with the Office of Multicultural Affairs—the Migrant and Refugee Settlement Service, Multicultural Youth Services, Companion House, CatholicCare and Red Cross, to name just a few. Earlier this year, as part of Refugee Week, I had the opportunity to attend a number of events where I heard first hand what these organisations are doing in our community, and I commend them for their tireless dedication.

I also meet regularly with groups. I am pleased that the ACT government has been able to respond directly to the needs of refugees and asylum seekers in our community, as a result of issues that they have raised with me, to enhance the suite of services already supported through the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

A good example of this is the asylum seeker access card which was launched in 2011 following representations to me from the community about the difficulty that some have in accessing government services. The access card was developed in consultation with key stakeholders, including the ACT Refugee, Asylum Seeker and Humanitarian Coordination Committee.

The access card facilitates the ACT government’s longstanding policy to provide the same services to asylum seekers as to refugees, where appropriate. Holders of the card are able to use it for a range of ACT government transport, education, legal and healthcare services. This is an excellent Labor government initiative and one that is making a tangible difference in the lives of asylum seekers living in our community. Since its launch in September 2011, Companion House has issued almost 300 cards to asylum seekers in the community and the government is currently looking at ways to enhance the benefits of this important service.

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