Letter to the HERALD SUN - 6 May 2011

The release of a new study* by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) should give an impetus to a change of thinking about how we define the “successful” resettlement of Humanitarian entrants.

Yet HERALD SUN writer, Simon Benson (Most refugee households rely on welfare, "" May 2011) chose to cherry-pick a few unflattering statistics about humanitarian entrants and present them in a manner which did little but reinforce the preconceptions of a small segment of our community, avoiding the overall positive findings of the report.

Fortunately, I’m confident that most Victorians are aware of the immense challenges humanitarian entrants face in integrating successfully into modern Australian life and the tremendous effort the vast majority make toward achieving independence and self-determination given appropriate support and opportunity.

Take the example of Samuel Venansio (THE AGE, 6 May 2011) who after 9 years in a refugee camp in Kenya has finished years 11 and 12 and is now doing a full-time tertiary degree at Victoria University.  His story is consistent with the findings of the report which show that those who are not in the work force are in some form of study and trying to find their way into the mainstream.

According to the DIAC report, one of the factors nominated by new arrivals as a predictor of their comfort in their new home was ‘being treated well by the local community since coming to Australia.’

In this regard, it would be helpful if some in the media took this message to their hearts.

Sam Afra
Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria


* Settlement Outcomes of New Arrivals, DIAC, April 2011


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