The majority of Syrian refugees are expected to be resettled in Sydney and Melbourne, the Federal Government says ahead of a meeting with community leaders in Canberra today.
A major effort is now underway to resettle an extra 12,000 refugees who have fled the conflict in the Middle East, with the first arrivals expected before Christmas.
Today’s meeting of the Refugee Resettlement Advisory Council will focus on arranging the complex logistical exercise, chaired by refugee advocate Paris Aristotle.
Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, the parliamentary secretary to the Minister for Social Services, said the Government needed the help of the states and territories, along with community groups, to ensure the process was as smooth as possible.
“Whilst we’ve got a very well-oiled machine in terms of the logistics, the meeting is really important because of the goodwill that’s been expressed,” she said.
“Because we’re seeking to do this in a relatively short period of time, we need to work with community groups, we need to work with other organisations in terms of some of those logistics.”
The meeting will also discuss the prospect of homestay-style accommodation in the short term to deal with the influx.
Senator Fierravanti-Wells said it was something the Federal Government would consider.
“That’s one of the things we’ll be looking at today, in terms of what’s the logistics of the accommodation that we’re going to be looking at,” she said.
Senator Fierravanti-Wells said the Government expected many of those arriving would want to resettle in Sydney or Melbourne, where the bulk of Australia’s Syrian community lives.
But authorities are also keen on ensuring a percentage will live in rural and regional areas of Australia.
“Whilst there’s a hope that we will settle people in different parts of Australia, predominantly the minorities that we are talking about are predominantly in Sydney and in Melbourne.” the senator said.
She said a big part of the Government’s efforts would be providing the basic services that families need to start up a new life.
“Normally what happens is that people do arrive, we meet them at the airport, we take them to temporary accommodation and there are provisions to enable settling in,” she said.