Refugees on the way

WARM WELCOME: Senator Kate Lundy with CEO of Northern Settlement Services Lulu Tantos, second from left. Picture: Darren PatemanA “HANDFUL”of the Syrian refugees who will call Newcastle home are expected to trickle into the region within the next two months, according to the region’s refugee support services.
Nanjing Night Net

An additional 12,000 humanitarian places were allocated by the Federal Government last year as a response to the conflict gripping Syria and Iraq, under one of Tony Abbott’s final acts as Prime Minister.

7000 of those refugees are expected to be resettled inNSW.

A spokesperson for the Department of Social Services said the first of thenew arrivals began entering Australia in November last year.

“There is now a regular flow of visa grants to Syrians and Iraqis under the 2015-16 Humanitarian Program,” he said.

“Decisions on all settlement locations have not yet been finalised but the locations are expected to align with those where settlement service providers are already operating, such as Newcastle.

“The Department of Social Services is consulting with state and territory governments on these matters.”

Navitas will provide intensivesupport to refugees who come to the Hunter within the first 12 months, under the Humanitarian Settlement Services Program.

An orientation program will assist them in finding accommodation, establishing bank accounts and connecting with Medicare and Centrelink.

Upon exiting that program, they will be linked with a range of other long-term support services, including counselling.

CEO of Northern Settlement Services Lulu Tantos said they hadn’t seen any arrivals yet butthey expectedto see fiveor sixfamilies settled in the region by the end of June.

Ms Tantossaid those numbers were too low to have any significant impact on services but she added that could change as the program gathered pace.

“As the number grows it will have an effect, not just on our services but other government services as well,” Ms Tantos said.

“TAFE, Centrelink, childcare, school,employment. It will have a ripple effect.”

She said her agency had been moved bythe response from the Australian community to the additional intake.

“When the announcement came there was a great groundswell across Australia, and particularly NSW.

“Throughout the community from the grassroots up, with offers of housing, a whole range of utility services.

“People’s compassion has certainly been laid out there.

“But we’ll wait and see what happens as the numbers start to come through.”

Wollongong,Wagga Wagga, Albury and Coffs Harbour have also been earmarked as regional NSWdestinations for the refugees.

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