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Refugee groups slam 'protocols'

Date

Stephanie Anderson

Refugee support agencies in Canberra have slammed calls for asylum seekers to be subject to special behaviour protocols.

Refugee support agencies in Canberra have slammed calls for asylum seekers to be subject to special behaviour protocols. Photo: Reuters

Calls for asylum seekers to be subject to special "behaviour protocols" have met fierce opposition from refugee support agencies in Canberra.

Following the arrest of a Sri Lankan asylum seeker over the alleged indecent assault of a young woman in Sydney, opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison called for special ''behaviour protocols'' for those released into the community.

Mandatory notification of police and residents in areas where they were housed was also proposed. But this type of blanket approach was not the solution to individual issues, according to Canberra Refugee Support president Geoff McPherson.

"When we have people who break the law, they need to be dealt with," he said.

"But we don't need special protocols based on ethnicity or the way you arrived in Australia."

Mr McPherson said it was "extremely unusual" to read reports of an asylum seekers breaking the law.

"They are typically desperate to be on the right side of the law," he said.

"They above all know if they do break the law that this could be sealing their fate in a direction they didn't want to go."

The majority of refugees settled locally are eager to become part of the Canberra community, according to Penina Huho.

As creative director of No Sweat Fashions, an organisation providing training and employment to asylum seekers, Ms Huho said she works daily with people who want to "develop themselves and contribute".

"I think it's a real shame that this stereotype is being applied to everybody." 

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