Page 943 - Week 03 - Thursday, 22 March 2018
that the federal government is relying on the community to plug holes, as they arise from what we can only assume are ill-thought-out or perhaps—and worse still—deliberately punitive measures to reduce support for asylum seekers.
If we step aside from this Australian program for a moment and look afar to Canada, we can see a model of how we could do things differently. Their model provides a clear example of how community sponsorship can be done without overly burdening communities and at the same time improving mechanisms for refugees to seek safety when their home country cannot provide it.
The Canadian program has been working for 40 years, welcoming over 280,000 people through community-led sponsorship. The Canadian program is in addition to the government-supported humanitarian intake. While the community must still prove its ability to provide financial support to the refugees it sponsors, there is no up-front application cost, and after 18 months of successful program participation applicants have access to social security support payments.
A joint discussion by the Refugee Council of Australia and Settlement Services International illustrates the success of the Canadian model since its inception in the 1970s. They say it is achieved at minimal cost to the Canadian government and provides a model which can be adapted in many other countries as part of global efforts to respond to the pressing need for more resettlement places. They also found the differences in employment and income between privately sponsored and government-assisted refugees are significant in the early years in Canada, but over 10 years, as outcomes for all refugees improve, this gap becomes much smaller. I hope that in writing to the federal government we may be able to influence them to look more closely at the Canadian model and improve the criteria of the community sponsorship program.
In conclusion, I thank Amnesty for bringing this matter to our attention. I understand they have spoken to all parties in this place about this issue over recent weeks. I also thank them for their tireless efforts to uphold the values of inclusion and fairness in our society and for holding governments to account in such important areas as refugee rights and human rights in Australia and overseas.
I also thank Canberra Refugee Support, a lesser-known but very important group of caring and compassionate people who continue to advocate for and support refugees in our local community, not just at the beginning but when they need it most, when many other sources of support have been exhausted.
I have confidence that our Canberra community will continue to support refugees. The Greens would like to see the federal government supporting the goodwill and generosity of Canberrans by implementing a well-targeted, equitable and inclusive community refugee sponsorship program. I hope to see this call echoed in our fellow refugee welcome zones across Australia. I commend this motion to the Assembly.
MRS KIKKERT (Ginninderra) (12.22): I stand today to respond to Mr Rattenbury’s motion. The Canberra Liberals acknowledge that our nation is built upon migration and the principles of multiculturalism that have grown out of that fact. We are proud