CLAREMONT PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR SYRIANS
CLAREMONT Mayor Jock Barker says his council is ready to get to work so the Royal Agricultural Society (RAS) can house Syrian refugees at the Claremont Showground.
“Australians have already stood up at appropriate times for genuine refugees, and at the end of the day they are persecuted people who need assistance,’ Mr Barker said.
He said he supported the offer made by the RAS to the State Government to use the Showground for short-term accommodation.
“They are going to need expertise in terms of administration, and we’ve got it,” Mr Barker said.
Assistance could include co-ordinating volunteers helping refugees and clothing, bedding and toy donations.
Council staff have already held preliminary discussions about how they could help.
The United Nations estimates athe five-year civil war has displaced 6.5 million and killed about 220,000 people in Syria.
Last week, Premier Colin Barnett suggested the Showground be initially used to house WA’s share of the 12,000 refugees Prime Minister Tony Abbott said last week would be accepted by Australia.
Mr Barnett said WA had the experience to set up “a large sort of camp environment” that could temporarily house refugees before their longterm accommodation was found.
RAS president Ron Wilson told the Western Suburbs Weekly the Society’s suggestion to use the Showground was sent to the Government the day after Mr Barnett said WA could take about 1000 refugees 10 days ago.
“I think it’s an appropriate thing to do as we are in a central location, we have the accommodation and toilet facilities, the volunteers, and are close to medical facilities,” Mr Wilson said.
He said he had support for using the Showground from the few RAS members he met since the offer.
East Fremantle Mayor Jim O’Neill and Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt have also written to Mr Barnett asking if the refugees could be housed long-term at Leeuwin Barracks in East Fremantle, where 370 Kosovo War refugees stayed in 1999.