GOVERNMENT RECOGNISES WORLD REFUGEE DAY AND INVITES VIEWS ON SPONSORSHIP PILOTPosted June 20, 2012
The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, and the Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Senator Kate Lundy, today encouraged Australians to celebrate World Refugee Day and recognise the plight of refugees and displaced people across the globe.
Mr Bowen said Australia’s humanitarian program was among the best in the world but the Government was looking at options to augment the existing program through a community sponsorship pilot.
“Australians can be rightly proud of the fact that we resettle more refugees per capita than any other nation and provide much needed protection to people who have suffered persecution,” Mr Bowen said.
“But we’re always looking at ways to improve our humanitarian program, especially when there is a very high demand for visas that far exceeds the number of places available.”
Mr Bowen said public consultation would begin today on a proposed private sponsorship program, as announced at this year’s Budget, with the release of a discussion paper.
“The Government is seeking the views of the Australian community on the feasibility of introducing a private/community sponsorship program for people in humanitarian need,” he said.
“Such an initiative could provide an opportunity to increase the size of our humanitarian program without a significant cost impact.”
Senator Lundy said World Refugee Day was celebrated internationally each year, recognising the plight of refugees and their contributions to our communities.
“World Refugee Day provides an opportunity to acknowledge Australia’s generosity giving vulnerable people a new life and the positive contribution that refugees make to our society,” Senator Lundy said.
“Australia has resettled about 775,000 refugees and other people in humanitarian need since the end of World War II. We can be rightly proud of our generous humanitarian tradition which is supported by our strong settlement services.”
Mr Bowen said the Government was aware of considerable interest in the private sponsorship concept through preliminary discussions with refugee communities and organisations.
“Private sponsorship would build on the goodwill in communities and provide local opportunities to be directly involved in the resettlement of refugees from vulnerable circumstances overseas,” he said.
“We encourage anyone in the Australian community with a view on the potential sponsorship pilot – including individuals, community groups, business and church groups, and local and state governments – to respond to the discussion paper.”
The Government will make a final decision on the feasibility of a pilot program following community input and consultations with stakeholders.
The discussion paper is available at www.immi.gov.au/about/contracts-tenders-submissions/The closing date for submissions is 27 July 2012.
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