Page 3751 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 28 October 2015
MS BERRY: The ACT has successfully settled over 2,000 refugees since 1997 and has supported many more who have subsequently moved to Canberra after first settling in other places around Australia. I have touched on the role of community organisations and service providers, and I want to assure Canberrans that the system in place for this process is tried and tested.
There is no doubt that there are excellent services available in the ACT that respond to the settlement needs of refugees. The Refugee, Asylum Seeker and Humanitarian Coordination Committee, who I met with last month, represents around 35 community organisations, all working well in this field: the Migrant and Refugee Settlement Service; the Red Cross; Companion House; Canberra Refugee Support; the Multicultural Youth Service; and numerous church groups and many others.
We all understand that there will be challenges in the settlement process given the traumatic environment from which these people have come. However, our community service providers and other relevant support groups here in Canberra will rise to the task and provide the support needed, as they have done in the past.
The roles played by the government and the community and business sectors are crucial in achieving successful settlement for refugees choosing to live in our city. I am pleased that recent consultations with many community organisations and business representatives showed such a strong willingness to support new arrivals, not just with their immediate needs but also with a supported and sustained settlement into our community.
MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mrs Jones.
MRS JONES: Minister, what can Canberra residents do to directly support these additional arrivals as they arrive, and will there be an opportunity for them to donate directly to this particular cohort?
MS BERRY: Yes, there will be plenty of opportunities for Canberrans. They have certainly shown their willingness at various rallies and refugee support events, certainly in the last 12 months and this weekend. Another example of how the Canberra community is coming together to support refugees is the walk together, kayak together event, and the welcome to Australia event, which is on at 11 o’clock on Saturday. I encourage all members to get along to that if they can.
The Migrant and Refugee Settlement Services will be the peak body, if you like, who will be responsible for settling the Syrian and Iraqi refugees who come into the ACT. Very soon we will be working with MARSS on the different ways in which people can provide support. When I have spoken to MARSS representatives, the support that these people will need most will be friendship. They will need people to help them out with catching a bus, with getting down to the shops, with getting their kids to school and with learning what it is like to live in the ACT.
MARSS run a number of programs to get people in the ACT who want to support refugees in this way volunteer-ready and to make sure they have all the relevant