The first Syrian refugee family to be settled in Australia, as part of the Commonwealth Government's commitment to accept an additional 12,000 refugees, arrived in Perth on 16 November 2015. This family was expedited under special circumstance and with the exception of four other families to be relocated under similar circumstances, future arrivals are unlikely to occur until February/March 2016.
The Department of the Premier and Cabinet and the Office of Multicultural Interests have continued to liaise with the Department of Social Services and local Humanitarian Settlement Service providers regarding the Settlement Strategy for our State.
- 12,000 additional refugees are to be settled in Australia by first quarter of 2017.
- There are 4,400 places still left from the base quota and must be settled by June 2016. A large portion of these places will be allocated to Syrians and Iraqis.
- Visas will be granted to refugees in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan only.
- A large proportion of these refugees will be sponsored by family members.
- No further arrivals are anticipated until February 2016.
- February to June 2016 will see large (not quantified) arrival numbers to meet base quota targets.
- There is a strong focus on security checks and clearances offshore.
- Employment and educational pathways are a priority focus for this group.
The Minister for Social Services will now write to the Prime Minister regarding the proposed settlement strategy and recommendations for service provision, based on a consultation report completed by the Refugee Resettlement Advisory Council.
About the Refugee Intake
Australia's commitment to the Syrian/Iraqi crisis
On 9 September 2015, the Prime Minister announced Australian support for the relocation of up to 12,000 Syrian refugees to Australia. This allocation is in addition to the current allocation of 13,750.
Western Australia's commitment
Western Australia is prepared to take approximately 1,000 Syrian refugees. In the last five years Western Australia has resettled 5,500 humanitarian entrants.
Why is Australia assisting?
The conflicts occurring in Syria and Iraq represent one of the worst humanitarian disasters of our time. So far, the conflict has displaced 11.6 million people, including 7.6 million people internally, making the situation in Syria the largest humanitarian crisis worldwide.
Where are the refugees coming from?
The 12,000 refugees that resettle in Australia will be drawn from people who have fled the conflict in Syria and Iraq who are predominantly located in United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.
Who will be coming?
The Commonwealth Department of Immigration and Border Protection has commenced the process of assessing potential refugees for resettlement in Australia. The assessment process is complex and thorough therefore the Department is not yet in a position to provide details of people who will be resettled. Arrival rates, level of education, health status, family composition and the expected level of support are not yet known. This should become clearer over the next month or two.
The Commonwealth Government has advised that priority will be given to those people who are deemed most vulnerable—particularly women, children and families of persecuted minorities, who have the least prospect of returning safely to their homes. They will undergo thorough assessment by both the UNHCR and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection before they are referred for resettlement in Australia.
What kind of screening do they receive?
Refugees applying for resettlement in Australia are required to undergo standard health, character and security checks before receiving a Refugee and Humanitarian visa. Both the UNHCR and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection undertake thorough checks.
When will they arrive?
The first arrivals are anticipated by the end of December 2015 and will continue sporadically over the following 12 to 18 months.
Who will be supporting them when they arrive?
There is a well-established settlement system in place in Western Australia with two Commonwealth Government-funded Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS) providers, Metropolitan Migrant Resource Centre and Communicare, delivering initial settlement support for the first six to 12 months. For more information about settlement services please visit the Department of Social Services website.
Where will they live?
The resettlement locations for those people arriving have not yet been decided. In determining where humanitarian entrants might settle, the Commonwealth Government considers a wide range of factors including links to family or friends and the availability of appropriate support services.
Accommodation for the additional 1,000 refugees resettling in Western Australia will be provided under the Australian Government's existing HSS programme. This accommodation is sourced primarily from local private rental markets.
Regional settlement is not likely in the first six months because of the level of support that may be required and access to specialist support services.
What benefits will they receive from the Commonwealth/State Government?
The 12,000 people who are resettled in Australia will arrive as permanent residents and therefore are entitled to Medicare and social security benefits. They must meet the same eligibility as other permanent residents and do not receive additional or higher benefits than other social security recipients.
What support services do they receive?
Humanitarian entrants arrive as permanent residents and are entitled to support services through the HSS program for the first six to 12 months, on a needs basis. This can include reception on arrival; an initial food package and start-up pack of household goods; assistance to register with Centrelink, Medicare, health services, banks and schools; finding accommodation (short and long term), English language support, interpreting services, education, employment assistance, and linking with community and recreation programmes. The HSS also features an Onshore Orientation Programme, available to all refugees and humanitarian entrants aged 15 years and over, to assist new arrivals to understand Australian society, laws and culture.
What is the Western Australian Government doing?
The Department of the Premier and Cabinet is coordinating Western Australia's response to the crisis and ensuring that government departments are responsive and kept informed.
The Western Australian Government is working closely with the Commonwealth Government, non-government organisations and others to ensure delivery of high-quality, culturally appropriate and inclusive services that ensure new arrivals are able to participate in Australian society as quickly as possible.
The Western Australian Government is responding to all enquires, and the many offers of support that are coming in from the community.
How can you help?
There have been many generous offers of support from the Western Australian community. To find out more about how you can help visit the What can I do to help? section on the Department of Social Services website.
How can I find out more?
If you have any further enquires about the refugee intake to Western Australia, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information is also available on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website.