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PM hosts Syrian refugee resettlement talks

“We’ll have to assess in due course what the next wave of support might be,” Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said, ahead of a meeting with migrant resettlement groups and ethnic community leaders in Canberra on Friday.

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“We want to provide support to people to start a new life but to try and predict what is going to happen in even two or three years time, given the volatility, it’s just very hard to predict.”

The 12,000 places are on top of Australia’s annual humanitarian intake of 13,750.

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Prime Minister Tony Abbott paid tribute to the community groups who had offered to help with resettlement, saying it had been easier for the government to make its one-off intake decision knowing there were people rallying to help.

“This is the kind of thing that Australia has done before, although obviously it is on unprecedented scale,” he told the meeting at Parliament House.

He reiterated the intake would focus on persecuted minorities, women, children, and families because “they are the most vulnerable people in a conflict such as this”.

Australia’s resettlement services ‘second to none’

Refugee advocate Paris Aristotle told the meeting the government’s decision was “an incredibly powerful humanitarian gesture”.

“It’s an extraordinary thing to think that there will be 12,000 people whose lives will be literally saved from a miserable set of circumstances that are not of their making,” he said.

Mr Aristotle said Australia’s resettlement services were second to none in the world.

The government has announced Australia will take 12,000 women, children and families, mostly from United Nations camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, as part of its response to the escalating Middle East refugee crisis.

That’s on top of the existing 13,750 in the refugee and humanitarian program.

The resettlement program is expected to cost about $700 million over the next four years.

The first arrivals of the new intake are due to be resettled by Christmas after health, security and other checks.

Although a smaller number than what some groups had sought, the decision to take in 12,000 has attracted broad community support.

But some have objected to the government’s plan to concentrate on women and children from persecuted minority groups, many of them Christian.

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