REFUGEE PUSH FOR BURNETT
The council will investigate a plan to bring Syrian refugees to the North Burnett
SYRIAN refugees could soon call the North Burnett home, after members of the Monto Presbyterian Church called on North Burnett Regional Council to welcome them into the community.
Monto councillor Paul Lobegeier told the council in a meeting on December 14 he welcomed the move.
“I offer no objections ... everyone has said to me as long as they aren’t towel heads, and what they mean by that is as long as they aren’t Muslim,” Cr Lobegeier said.
“The Monto community wants to do this.”
Reverend Derek Bound said in a submission to the council the community could accept Christian refugees from the Middle East.
“Monto is a close knit and supporting community, I believe this would be an ideal place for those refugees from a Christian background traumatised by war to make a good recovery,” Mr Bound said.
“It would be in the interests of the community and the council to have this injection of government and associated monies.
“If the refugees who come here have a Christian background I envisage no racial or other social tensions as a result.”
Mr Bound said the community already had the resources to provide for the needs of refugees “traumatised by war at low cost to the government, while at the same time helping the rural community”.
“There are a number of empty homes in (Monto) for very reasonable rent,” Mr Bound said.
“We have more than adequate medical facilities and counselling services, we have more than adequate educational facilities consisting of three primary schools including a catholic school and a well organised high school.”
Mr Bound said he and his wife have post-graduate qualifications in teaching English as a second language.
North Burnett Regional Council CEO Mark Pitt said the Racial Discrimination Act prevented the council discriminating against refugees based on religion.
“If the Commonwealth decides to send them here, you’ll get what you are given,” Mr Pitt said.
The council voted to hold community consultations on the issue.
RECENTLY, there has been a push from some people in the North Burnett to welcome Syrian refugees escaping fear and persecution into our communities.
The Syrian conflict has been going since 2011 and has seen a larger number of people displaced than the Second World War.
To all that are pushing to welcome Syrian refugees into our community, thank you. These people need our help, probably more than anyone else in the world, and anything we can do to help them is a good thing.
While the efforts of the people calling for the refugees is commendable, we cannot just accept Christian Syrians. Not only would that be against the Racial Discrimination Act, but it would be ignoring an even larger number of people that need help. Groups like ISIS aren’t just killing Christians; the majority of their victims are other Muslims.
Muslims don’t threaten our way of life; their lifestyle isn’t incompatible with ours.
The high school I went to was multicultural and many of my friends were Muslim. They were some of the kindest and most generous people I have met. They have gone on to become doctors, nurses, lawyers, making the community a better place.
I even bumped into some of them the other night at a Harry Potter trivia night at a bar in Brisbane’s West End.
It is a great thing for the community to accept refugees, and the diversity they bring will make the Burnett stronger.
Destroyed buildings in the Al-Sukari district of Aleppo, Syria on December 23 2016.