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Call to immediately increase Australia’s refugee program

Protesters carry placards at a 'Welcome Refugees' rally in Sydney (AFP)

Protesters carry placards at a ‘Welcome Refugees’ rally in Sydney (AFP)

The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) is calling on the Australian Government to immediately increase the Refugee and Humanitarian Program to at least 20,000 places in the coming year and rapidly scale-up the intake to 30,000 places in light of escalating global protection needs.

RCOA’s chief executive officer Paul Power said, ‘For every resettlement place offered by the international community, there are 11 refugees who are in urgent need of resettlement. This year less than one per cent of the world’s refugees will get the opportunity to be safely resettled and Australia is not doing its fair share.’

RCOA executive officer Paul Power. Photo LinkedIn

RCOA executive officer Paul Power. Photo LinkedIn

‘While we welcome the Australian Government’s medium term plan to increase the number of people it resettles, it is clear that Australia must do much more in assisting the global community deal with the growing challenge of displaced people and refugees,’ Mr Power said.

‘The world is facing the worst crisis in global displacement since World War II with more than 51 million people displaced, including more than 18 million refugees requiring safety and protection’, he said.

The call for an increase in Australian resettlement places comes in RCOA’s annual pre-Budget submission, compiled after a nationwide consultation with refugees, asylum seekers and the people who support them.

‘The growth in the number of displaced people globally is now at such a critical stage that we can’t afford to wait another year. We need action right now. So many people are in such desperate need worldwide, why are we dragging our heels?.

‘Australia’s asylum seeker policies have already garnered us a reputation as a nation which turns it back on people in need and pushes its responsibilities onto our much poorer neighbours

‘During the 2012-13 financial year, Australia’s Refugee and Humanitarian Program was rapidly increased from 13,750 places to 20,000 places. Communities, NGOs, service providers and public servants all rose to the challenge. We know that we have the capacity to offer protection to more people.

‘Australia’s asylum seeker policies have already garnered us a reputation as a nation which turns it back on people in need and pushes its responsibilities onto our much poorer neighbours. Our tight-fisted response to current global refugee crisis isn’t helping.

‘It’s time for Australia to show genuine leadership, as it did at the end of World War II and the Vietnam War, in taking urgent action to address this global crisis. Immediately increasing our resettlement program to 20,000 places annually would be a good way to start.’

The RCOA intake submission contains 35 recommendations based on feedback from service providers and community groups, as well as first-hand accounts from refugees and asylum seekers who live with the implications of Australia’s policies every day.

The full submission can be downloaded here:

http://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/2015-16_IntakeSub.pdf .

 


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