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Syrian and Iraqi Families Welcome, Resettlement Process Unclear

Andrea Dawkins

Andrea Dawkins  -  Friday, 4 November 2016

Tags: Refugees, Syria

Andrea Dawkins MP | Greens Multicultural Affairs spokesperson

The news that eight Syrian and Iraqi families have arrived in Tasmania is welcome, and it's been a long time coming.  Tasmanians have been waiting more than a year since the Premier first promised refugees from Syria and Iraq a new home in the State.

The Greens welcome these families to Tasmania with open arms.  They are a small proportion of those expected to arrive from Syria and Iraq.

Our island is a warm hearted and welcoming place with settlement services, educational opportunities and a compassionate and concerned community waiting to help the new arrivals settle in.  

The State government arrangements around these families' and future arrivals is, and has long been, unclear.  It's in stark contrast to the response of places like Canada, where we saw Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, welcoming refugees with open arms.

The government needs to clarify the visa arrangements under which these families have arrived.  

Tasmanians were led to believe the 500 people headed to Tasmania would be offered Safe Have Enterprise Visas, but it appears the families who arrived this week may be under the Humanitarian Resettlement Program.

If this is the case, the Premier must explain whether or not the State is still expecting 500 people will be able to come to Tasmania under the SHEV scheme.  Tasmania should be offering a home to as many people fleeing the horror of Syria and Iraq as we possibly can.

The circumstances which provoked the Premier's announcement to welcome an additional 500 refugees from war-torn Iraq and Syria have not changed.  In fact, the situation in Mosul and Aleppo have worsened.

The Premier promised he would provide Syrian and Iraqi refugees with a safe haven in Tasmania.  He must do all in his power to give many more refugee families and individuals the same chance as these first eight, as soon as possible.