Page 3750 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 28 October 2015

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Union leaders have also expressed a willingness to be part of a city-wide effort. They can also play an important role in supporting people in new jobs and a very different workplace culture than they might have come from. History shows that most refugees bring a great desire to work and contribute to their adopted communities. I appreciate the willingness of local leaders to facilitate this as much as possible.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Fitzharris.

MS FITZHARRIS: Minister, how was this number reached?

MADAM SPEAKER: That is the 250?

MS FITZHARRIS: Yes, the 250.

MS BERRY: As I have said, the government has articulated the number of 250 people as the number our community can comfortably and sustainably settle. It is not a definitive number and the Assembly agreed last sitting that we would like to see the possibility of further intakes considered as this current resettlement program moves ahead. I also stress our commitment to working collaboratively with federal and state governments around settling people according to a time frame in a way which is best for them.

In arriving at the figure of 250 extra people next year we have taken into account the availability of affordable housing and prospects in our local labour market as well as the capacity of the relevant community service providers to meet the demands associated with the proposed additional intake. I have mentioned the Business Council and the pleasing response to its survey which suggests that job-ready people arriving in Canberra could be able to find employment within a short period.

In this regard the ACT has a very good track record and a proven approach in supporting refugees to settle and gain meaningful and sustained employment through workplace pathway programs such as the work experience and support program, employment pathways service and the home to work program. Indeed there has been national interest in our work experience support program which may be replicated in other jurisdictions.

In terms of housing, the need for the private rental market to be able to contribute to housing people who arrive through affordable rental properties is clear and, again, I have had productive discussions with the peak body, the Real Estate Institute. Our local services also run effective housing transition programs and I am confident that with the support of the federal government and the generosity of the Canberra community we can sustainably house the people who come to call our city their home.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Dr Bourke.

DR BOURKE: Minister, what role does the ACT government, community and business sector play in supporting these refugees when they come to our city?

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