Media Release From Andrew Praser
31 March 2006
Associate Professor Andrew Fraser Vindicated In Parliament
Dear All, You might want to compare my notoriously "racist" prediction that an expanding black African population, if experience is any guide, will result in "increasing levels of crime, violence and a wide range of other social problems" with the observations by Premier Iemma in the NSW Parliament regarding the realities of increasing crime, violence and a wide range of other social problems associated with black African migrants in western Sydney.
Home » Hansard & Papers » Legislative Assembly » 08/03/2006 » Article 11 of 41 NSW Legislative Assembly Hansard. Subjects: Crime; Health; Refugees; Diseases | Speakers: Gibson Mr Paul; Iemma Mr Morris | Speech Type: QWN; Questions Without Notice
HUMANITARIAN REFUGEE SUPPORT SERVICES Page: 21263
Mr PAUL GIBSON: My question is addressed to the Premier. What is the latest information on community concerns about humanitarian refugee support services?
Mr MORRIS IEMMA: I thank the honourable member for his question. Mr Andrew Stoner: Are you running for Canberra?
Mr MORRIS IEMMA: The Leader of The Nationals can lend support to the victims of asbestos by contacting Peter Costello. How about doing that? Humanitarian refugees are among the most vulnerable people in our community-indeed, the world. When the Commonwealth accepts a humanitarian refugee it also accept responsibility for the problems and challenges refugees face. Refugees and asylum seekers arriving in New South Wales from places such as Sudan have a range of complex health problems not seen in previous groups of refugees. These people have spent a major part of their lives in refugee camps with poor nutrition, terrible sanitation and only limited access to basic health care. In many cases they have been subjected to the most traumatic experiences such as witnessing the execution, rape or torture of their family members.
NSW Health in late 2005 advised me as: only 37 per cent of the 4,000 humanitarian refugees from Africa underwent screening for diseases before arriving in Australia. Despite being given basic preliminary health checks upon application for an Australian humanitarian visa, these refugees continue to be exposed to infections while living in refugee camps before they leave Africa. But when they arrived in Australia, unlike other migrants, they are denied a Medicare card.
Mr Alan Ashton: Shame!
Mr MORRIS IEMMA: Yes. This makes access to medical treatment well nigh impossible. It also puts the whole community in danger from diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, hepatitis, and measles-
Mr Alan Ashton: They have just been dumped here.
Mr MORRIS IEMMA: Yes. The Federal Government is not only dumping these vulnerable immigrants on our doorstep without proper medical checks and without Medicare cards; it has also refused to set up a single dedicated support service in areas where refugees settle such as Western Sydney, Coffs Harbour, Tamworth, Newcastle and Wollongong. These vulnerable refugees are simply left to fend for themselves and the State health system is forced to pick up the pieces. New South Wales is pulling its weight with services such as the Refugee Health Service and the Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma, which we fund to the tune of $3.5 million a year. Not only that but the specialised needs of humanitarian refugees are placing huge strains on our new paediatric clinics at Westmead Children's Hospital and at Wallsend. The Minister for Health has written to the Federal Government calling for the establishment of a Medicare number for refugee health services. The Commonwealth needs to get its act together.
Mrs Barbara Perry: And do it quickly.
Mr MORRIS IEMMA: Yes. This is necessary to prevent an emerging health crisis. It is not just in health services where John Howard is letting these people down. The Commonwealth's English as a second language [ESL] new arrivals funding program is simply inadequate. The Commonwealth has primary responsibility for the ESL program-
Mr Andrew Stoner: Can't you raise these matters over in Canberra?
Mr MORRIS IEMMA: No, because it is placing a strain on area health services. The Leader of the Nationals might not care about the paediatric services at Westmead but we do. The Commonwealth has primary responsibility for the ESL program because it controls Australia's migration program. It is all very well for the Commonwealth to talk big about who comes into this country, yet it has abrogated its duty to teach migrants English. This has been a longstanding concern of this and other State governments. Under the New Arrivals Program the Commonwealth provides a grant to New South Wales for each newly arrived ESL student. However, only 62 per cent of ESL students enrolled in New South Wales government schools meet the Commonwealth's eligibility criteria.
Despite the Commonwealth's failure, the State government will continue to provide a high-quality, targeted ESL program as part of its equity provision in New South Wales government schools-our commitment to equity. Low English ability is a direct contributor to high unemployment rates and is a massive barrier to becoming part of the Australian community. The situation is further exacerbated by the Commonwealth exiting the field of providing interpreter services. On 1 July 2005 the Commonwealth completely abandoned its commitment to providing interpreter services for those accessing community services. This has had a massive impact on those trying to access community services in New South Wales. All this results in social alienation and, inevitably, increased crime rates.
I am advised by NSW Police that a number of local area commands have expressed concern in recent months about the increasing number of recent arrivals from African countries. The concern is not about the African refugees per se; it is about refugees not being adequately supported during their settlement period and thus beginning to feature in crime statistics-both as victims and as offenders. The police are responding to this at the individual local area command level and have recently begun workshops with the Sudanese community as part of a crime prevention and education strategy. About half of the recent 5,000 arrivals have settled in Blacktown. A further 1,500 live in Newcastle and Coffs Harbour. I am advised that local area commanders have to divert police resources to deal with problems associated with these refugees. There are also reports of more serious crime associated with gangs of young men from African communities. It is not the core business of the New South Wales health system for the New South Wales police force to spend time and resources picking up the ball dropped by Canberra.
NSW Legislative Assembly Hansard, 8 March 2006, Pages 43 -, article 11. Help | Site Index | Contact Us | Copyright & Conditions Members of Parliament Hansard and Papers Committees Bills Home Legislative Council Legislative Assembly Information Resources Contact Us Visit Us