Budget 2011-12: Boost to Australia's Humanitarian Program
Tuesday, 10 May 2011
Australia will expand its humanitarian program by 4000 places over the next four years – to 14 750 places annually – for people in need of refuge and protection, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, announced today.
Mr Bowen said as part of the 2011–12 Budget, the Federal Government would significantly increase its humanitarian intake following a landmark arrangement under the Regional Cooperation Framework.
'This is an important boost to Australia's humanitarian program and the largest since Labor was last in government in 1996. It reaffirms our commitment to providing appropriate care and support for vulnerable people in need of assistance,' Mr Bowen said.
'The refugee program will now consist of 7000 places, primarily for those who have been referred to Australia for resettlement by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR]. Within this refugee component, 12 per cent will be for the "woman at risk" program, ensuring that vulnerable women continue to be a priority.
'The focus will continue to be on refugees from three priority regions of Africa, the Middle East and Asia.'
There will also be 7750 places in the special humanitarian program, including for people who have sought Australia's protection after arrival in this country and are subsequently found to be refugees.
Mr Bowen said Australia would continue its work with the UNHCR and neighbouring countries to address the challenges within the region and internationally.
'In July this year, Australia assumes the chair of UNHCR's Working Group on Resettlement. Through this and initiatives through the Regional Cooperation Framework, we should be able to expand global capacity to help resolve the challenges we are facing,' he said.
'Displacement of people continues to occur around the world – this is an international problem. We and other countries are working together to resettle thousands of people each year.
'In Australia, we are providing appropriate care and support along with English language lessons and other important services to facilitate the settlement process.
'We're playing our part in providing refugees with protection, assisting others who are in great humanitarian need and in reuniting families. We also acknowledge the enormous contribution that refugees have made to every walk of life in our country.'
Last update: Tuesday, 10 May 2011 at 19:32 AEST