Shire wel­comes refugees

Kyabram Free Press - - WEDNESDAY EXTRA - By Kim Price

REFUGEES who ar­rived in Aus­tralia be­fore 2013 can now set­tle in Cam­paspe Shire.

The coun­cil opted in to the Safe Haven En­ter­prise Visa (SHEV) scheme re­cently.

The 2014 Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment scheme en­cour­ages il­le­gal ar­rivals, who en­tered Aus­tralia be­fore 2013 and en­gage within Aus­tralia’s pro­tec­tion obli­ga­tions, to set­tle in a re­gional com­mu­nity.

SHEV al­lows refugees to hold a five-year visa, en­sur­ing sta­bil­ity and ac­cess to work or study.

Most of re­gional Aus­tralia has opted in to the scheme. How­ever, the Vic­to­rian Gov­ern­ment al­lowed lo­cal shires to in­de­pen­dently de­cide to join.

Echuca-Moama’s Ru­ral Aus­tralians for Refugees (RAR) chair­man Chris­tine Turner spoke to Cam­paspe Shire coun­cil­lors last week.

‘‘The SHEV scheme al­lows for prac­ti­cal sup­port for set­tlers,’’ she said.

‘‘Our in­ter­est in the mat­ter came about as two fam­i­lies, who have friends here, wanted to move to the area, but dis­cov­ered that the Cam­paspe Shire was not part of the scheme.

‘‘One fam­ily un­able to move here had to set­tle in Bendigo where they knew no-one and found it dif­fi­cult to ad­just.’’

Ms Turner said the refugees were keen to take up any kind of em­ploy­ment, which would be ben­e­fi­cial to the com­mu­nity, par­tic­u­larly in high turn-over rate in­dus­tries such as agri­cul­ture and hos­pi­tal­ity.

She in­sisted there shouldn’t be reser­va­tions from the com­mu­nity over the im­ple­men­ta­tion of SHEV.

‘‘The refugees el­i­gi­ble for the scheme have been in Aus­tralia since 2013, they are well aware of our cul­ture,’’ she said.

‘‘Many of th­ese peo­ple have worked, are knowl­edge­able of our pol­i­tics and some even have their driv­ing li­cences.’’

While there have been ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est from refugees to move to the Cam­paspe re­gion, Ms Turner sug­gested there would not be an in­flux, with Bendigo hav­ing wel­comed about 25 refugees since 2015.

The RAR net­work has ex­pe­ri­enced great en­hance­ment from wel­com­ing refugees into their com­mu­ni­ties and Ms Turner be­lieves Cam­paspe Shire will ben­e­fit from the in­tro­duc­tion of refugees into our so­ci­ety.

Cr Daniel Mack­rell sup­ported the SHEV scheme as ‘‘di­ver­sity is im­por­tant in our com­mu­nity’’.

‘‘The SHEV scheme ticks the five key points of the shire’s strate­gic plan­ning and it is one step for­ward for our com­mu­nity,’’ he said.

Cr Neil Pankhurst was sim­i­larly pos­i­tive.

‘‘Any­thing we can do to en­cour­age oth­ers to come and use our fa­cil­i­ties is good for our com­mu­nity.’’

❝They are well aware of our cul­ture❞ — Chris­tine Turner

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