CatholicCare Tasmania ready to support refugees

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Home > Media > News > CatholicCare Tasmania ready to support refugees
CatholicCare Tasmania ready to support refugees

This year’s Social Justice Sunday coincides with the Federal Government’s announcement that an additional 12,000 people, Syrian refugees from camps across Lebanon, Syria and Turkey, will be granted permanent residency in Australia.

However for James Norman, Manager of CatholicCare Tasmania’s Multicultural Service Programmes (MSP), the announcement only affirms his organisation’s readiness to respond to the needs of Australia’s newcomers.

“Can we increase to meet this new demand, if we’re asked to? The answer is yes, we’re really keen to, we think the services are here, we think it’s the right region for it,” he said.

“We have a great team which includes over 150 volunteers who work in our program.

“We can upscale very quickly, we’re very keen to see that [an additional intake] happen.”

While the Government has not announced how many additional refugees it may be settling in Tasmania, Mr Norman insists that an increased intake wouldn’t overwhelm existing support services.

“Contrary to public belief, people who are coming through the humanitarian intake into Humanitarian Settlement Services aren’t a drain on public housing, they’re not on public housing waiting lists, and very few end up there,” he said.

“We help people move into affordable accommodation in the private rental market, and if the number of people increases so our spread geographically will increase as well.”

Apart from accommodation, Mr Norman spoke of the suite of other support services which refugees need.

“There’s a specialist torture and trauma counselling support service in Hobart – the Phoenix Centre, and we work closely with them,” he said.

“There’s also mainstream counselling services and the GP network.

“We link new humanitarian entrants into Medicare, Centrelink and schooling within days of their arrival.”

Mr Norman also spoke of the need to differentiate between the additional Syrian humanitarian intake and asylum seekers, who are already living in Australia.

“The Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) has nothing to do with people arriving from Syria, it’s a temporary visa for those who came as asylum seekers.

“Most asylum seekers live in the community on bridging visas, although some are in detention.

“The SHEV is a temporary visa for refugees who arrived as asylum seekers and who are looking to live and work in regional areas of Australia.”

This year’s Social Justice Statement, “For those who’ve come across the seas: for refugees and asylum seekers” involves a call to re-examine our nation’s responses to refugees and asylum seekers.

Archbishop Julian will be launching the 2015-16 Social Justice Statement in Hobart, at the 10.30 am Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral, on Sunday September 27.

For more information click here  and to see the statement click here