Monday December 6, 2010
Australian Red Cross will undertake a lead agency role in care arrangements for families and unaccompanied minors whom the government has announced will be moved from immigration detention facilities into the care of community organisations. Australian Red Cross strongly supports the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen's decision to adopt this humanitarian response.
'It is anticipated that the first group of vulnerable people will be settled in the community in coming weeks,'
said Acting CEO Michael Raper. 'There's a special need to get them into community-based care arrangements, where key needs will include housing, basic living allowances, and health and welfare assistance. Some may also need counselling (including for torture and trauma), educational support and specialist health services.
'It's important, regardless of whether people eventually return to their country of origin or whether they're accepted as refugees in Australia, that children in particular are not harmed and are able to grow and learn in their time in Australia,' Mr Raper said.
Red Cross will undertake a care planning and case management plan for all people in community detention and will engage a range of welfare agencies and other community organisations Australia-wide to provide care services under the new arrangements. These organisations will be subcontracted to provide appropriate services, which may include accommodation, care for unaccompanied minors, day-to-day casework support for families and volunteer support.
'Red Cross has provided support for people in community detention for the past five years, and has cared for hundreds of families and individuals during this time. We have the knowledge, expertise and systems to enable this program to expand quickly. With the support, resources and expertise of other community organisations we will implement this expansion effectively and efficiently,' Mr Raper said.
'We look forward to working closely with the government, welfare agencies and other community organisations to implement these widely supported care arrangements. Over the last few weeks, Red Cross and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship have been consulting widely with stakeholders and potential service providers to ensure the program's success.
'Australian Red Cross is a politically neutral and impartial humanitarian organisation focused on helping the most vulnerable members of society. Asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants, many of whom have fled persecution, torture and threats of death, are undoubtedly among those most in need in our community.' Survey results released by Australian Red Cross for Refugee Week earlier this year found most Australians were sympathetic to the plight of refugees with eight out of 10 saying they would help a refugee to settle into their community.
'While these asylum seekers are still having their claims for protection assessed, Red Cross anticipates strong support from community members and volunteers, given their vulnerability, and the fact that most have suffered and survived extreme hardships to end up here,' Mr Raper added.
For media enquiries or to arrange interviews contact Red Cross media adviser Kim Batchelor on 0457 542 113 or firstname.lastname@example.org