Christmas Island refugees to go to SA
Sydney Morning Herald
January 17, 2009
Australian authorities are moving swiftly to resettle the first intake of Iranian and Afghan refugees since the easing of once tough rules on asylum seekers.
The immigration department announced only on Friday that the group of 28 boat people would be resettled in South Australia and they are expected to arrive there within the next few days.
The 18 adults and 10 children were intercepted by authorities between September 29 and November 24 last year and since then have been held on Christmas Island, off Western Australia.
They said they wanted to stay together and the department believes that South Australia offers the best opportunity for them to become integrated into the Australian way of life.
Immigration spokesman Sandi Logan said other immigrants from the same cultural background already live in South Australia who would help the newcomers assimilate.
“We know South Australia has had a very good record of refugee humanitarian settlement and integration,” Mr Logan said.
He said the settlement service scheme will now kick in to help the refugees start their new life.
“It will help them register for migrant English programs, help them register for Medicare and help them settle into the Australian way of life,” Mr Logan said.
“Given that there are similar communities from their countries which have successfully done that already in South Australia, it made sense to do that in South Australia.”
Immigration Minister Chris Evans said on Friday that a thorough assessment of their claims had determined they were entitled to Australia's protection.
He said they had clearly demonstrated a well-founded fear of persecution or death should they be returned to their own countries.
They are the first people to be granted asylum since the centre-left government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd softened Australia's refugee policy last July.
Announcing a “more humane” approach, Rudd scrapped the automatic incarceration on arrival of asylum seekers and called for an end to the detention of children and their families – both legacies of the previous conservative government
The Immigration Department is currently processing claims for another 134 unauthorised arrivals on Christmas Island.