Reviews lead to improved settlement services
Tuesday, 13 December 2011
Joint media release with Chris Bowen MP– Minister for Immigration and Citizenship and Senator Kate Lundy – Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs.
Improvements to refugee settlement services are on track following independent scrutiny of service delivery, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, said today.
Mr Bowen and Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Senator Kate Lundy, today released the Review of Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS) Performance Measures and Contract Management.
Mr Bowen said the government would accept all the recommendations from the report by David Richmond AO into the adequacy of the performance measures and framework, as well as the Immigration Department's contract management processes.
The review by Mr Richmond was commissioned in May after an independent review found serious issues with service delivery to clients in the Hunter region under the previous Integrated Humanitarian Settlement Strategy (IHSS) program.
In April this year, the Gillard Government replaced the IHSS program with the Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS) program and introduced a comprehensive set of changes to strengthen and improve the settlement framework.
'The review by Mr Richmond found that although the HSS is generally well managed, improvements can be made in certain areas such as contract performance management, reporting and quality control,' Mr Bowen said.
'The government has accepted the recommendations of the review and I have asked my department to establish an implementation taskforce to provide regular progress reports.
'Work to improve and review settlement services is ongoing and we have already inspected the standard of more than 400 properties, and as a result, relocated four families to more appropriate accommodation.'
The Review of Humanitarian Settlement Services found that:
- there needed to be more proactive contract management and better reporting
- strategies were required to improve performance measures supporting the program
- better safeguards were needed on accommodation standards, particularly in stressed urban housing markets
- the quality assurance framework needed revising, and reporting and dialogue between the department and service delivery networks needed strengthening and
- service providers could improve their relationships with clients 'on the ground'.
In addition, a forensic audit of Resolve FM's financial management practices under the IHSS program commissioned by the government found that there was no evidence of falsified or erroneous transactions.
Senator Lundy said the government had strengthened humanitarian settlement support services across Australia and around major regional centres under the HSS program.
'The review supported the improvements to our settlement services introduced by the government earlier this year, but highlighted the ongoing management challenges associated with successful settlement,' Senator Lundy said.
'Australia's settlement services are now more comprehensive and robust than they have been in the past, but we remain focused on addressing emerging issues to ensure better settlement outcomes for new arrivals and the Australian community.
'As a government we are committed to delivering strong settlement support to help some of the community's most vulnerable people start a new life in Australia and become participating members of the community.
'I would like to thank Mr Richmond and others who have provided valuable input into the review, as well as the professional and committed service providers who deliver settlement services to newly arrived refugees.'
The Review of Humanitarian Settlement Services and the forensic audit can be found on the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) website.
See: Review of Humanitarian Settlement Services Performance Measures and Contract Management
Community enquiries or feedback in relation to local settlement services should be directed to the special DIAC hotline.
Last update: Tuesday, 13 December 2011 at 12:06 AEST