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Resettlement committee set up for Syrian refugees

An emergency summit of community leaders was called in Canberra where Tony Abbott urged the groups to cooperate during the resettlement process.

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The Prime Minister made a call to arms.

 

“All of us now have to work together so that the people that we do bring into our country will have the best possible experience so that it will be good for them and good for our country as a whole.”

 

The government has seen broad support for the humanitarian commitment it announced yesterday.

 

It includes $44 million in aid to refugee agenices, in addition to the 12,000 refugees who have been promised permanent resettlement in Australia.

 

Most of them will come from United Nations camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

 

Last week saw mounting public outcry about the crisis in Syria, following the haunting image of young Aylan Kurdi lying on the shores of a Turkish beach.

 

Social Services Minister Scott Morrison stressed the importance of not losing a compassionate response.

 

“There will be many more of these meeting, more direct engagements with specific communities of all different backgrounds, of all different faiths, to ensure we maintain the momentum long after the images that we’ve seen, and that have sparked so much outpouring of support. This support needs to be maintained over a long time, because when you resettle someone in Australia, you resettle them for life.”

 

Planning that resettlement will be leaders of different faith groups and community organisations.

 

The Refugee Resettlement Advisory Council will be headed up by Paris Aristotle, who has more than 25 years experience as a refugee advocate.

 

He says the commitment to the new Australians will not waver.

“We’ll take it in our stride. We’ll plan carefully for it and ensure that the people that we get to bring here, the 12,000 people whose lives will literally be saved as a consequence of this commitment, that we’ll look after them properly. And that they will not only recover from those experiences, but they will go on to make a fantastic contribution to Australian society.”

 

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton says that contribution could happen sooner rather than later.

 

“I’m very confident that we can have people here before Christmas. And the Department already has people in the country working now with UNHCR and with other authorities, and there’s an opportunity to bring people in the coming couple of months, I’m hoping well in advance of Christmas. But we’ve obviously got security and health checks to work through. But we are breaking every record to try and get the services in place.”

 

However, Social Services Minister Scott Morrison could not confirm when all 12,000 refugees would be settled in Australia.

 

“This will take as long as it takes. There is a clear process: identify, assessing, checking, clearing, pre-departure support, arrival in Australia, establishment of the settlement services. You don’t rush this. You do it properly because that’s what gets the best outcomes. We are the best in the world at refugee humanitarian resettlement because we work our process well.”

 

Mr Morrison has also reassured Australia’s Muslim community, saying there won’t be discrimination in the ethnic and religious make-up of refugees.

 

The comments come after a statement made by the minister yesterday, that the majority of refugees would be Middle Eastern Christians.

 

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