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Support services struggling to cope

The number of refugees and asylum seekers being assisted with resettling in the capital has increased fourfold since 2008 as support services struggle with funding gaps.

Migrant and Refugee Settlement Services is seeking continued funding and financial support of $150,000 each year from the ACT government, to tackle the increasing numbers of clients.

In its submission to the ACT government budget consultation, the organisation stated that its client numbers had surged from less than 100 in 2008 to more than 450 as of June 30 last year.

"This is a fourfold increase and has quadrupled the call on MARSS resources," it read.

"Services have needed to be adjusted to cope with this demand."

The ACT government has funded the organisation since the federal government withdrew its support in 2008, the submission stated.

The then chief minister Jon Stanhope agreed to a limited support package of about $50,000 a year, an agreement which concludes this year and leaves the future funding of the services in doubt.

The organisation stated only eligible-visa people who had arrived in Australia within the last five years were funded by the federal government, meaning people such as asylum seekers were "not funded at all".

It also described Canberra and its citizens as an example of how compassionate people can be, often welcoming refugees whose settlement fails in Sydney or Melbourne.

"MARSS has received no financial assistance to help these secondary migrants as the funds given by the federal government for assistance to migrants is generally linked to the primary migrant status," it read.

"There is an increasing demand on the services of MARSS due to the influx of refugees and other humanitarian entrants into Canberra. This trend is not expected to reduce.''


  • Yes, the government needs to consider all of this before making these big announcements to release asylum-seekers into the community, the funding offered generally lasts for a pitiful 6 weeks, what's the point of that when immigration processing times can last from months to years and in the meantime people are out in the community with no work rights, no eligibility benefits therefore no means at all of supporting themselves while they await being granted some form of status in this country?

    And as for the secondary migrants, people need to do their research before coming to the ACT as so many barriers apply to housing in particular (ie. expensive and competitive private rental market, 6-month residency requirement prior to being able to apply for public housing). Services shouldn't be expected to automatically pick these people up, they need to plan a move to Canberra just like anyone else and if they can't afford to support themselves to do so then they need to look at other options.

    Date and time
    March 25, 2013, 11:28AM
    • Couldn't agree more, tigger. And housing is already a sore point for many locals, and it is galling that the govt is unnecessarily introducing more public housing clients just so they can have an 'announcable'.

      Date and time
      March 25, 2013, 3:29PM
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