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Federal Election  |  Election 2016

NFPs Call for Respectful Refugee Debate in Dutton Storm


18 May 2016 at 1:49 pm
Lina Caneva
Not for Profit refugee advocates have called on all political parties for more respectful and informed debate on refugee issues in light of government comments about refugees taking Australian jobs.

Lina Caneva | 18 May 2016 at 1:49 pm


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NFPs Call for Respectful Refugee Debate in Dutton Storm
18 May 2016 at 1:49 pm

Not for Profit refugee advocates have called on all political parties for more respectful and informed debate on refugee issues in light of government comments about refugees taking Australian jobs.

The call follows a storm on social media attacking Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton over his comments that an increase of the refugee intake would result  in “illiterate and innumerate” refugees taking Australian jobs.

The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA), the peak national body representing Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, said all political parties must “engage in a respectful, informed and reasonable debate on refugee issues, and ensure that the discourse does not marginalise this vulnerable group”.

“We are calling for the discussion to be brought within the bounds of acceptable discourse. We are concerned that the current tone could incite division among communities in this very sensitive area,” FECCA chairperson Joe Caputo said.

“Historically, refugees have contributed to the social, cultural and economic fabric of the country, with Australia greatly benefiting from this unique composition.”

He said data from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship on the economic, social and civic contributions of first and second generation humanitarian entrants indicates that humanitarian entrants are the most entrepreneurial in Australia.

“Humanitarian entrants tend to work several jobs in their first few years in Australia in order to finance their own business. They display greater entrepreneurial qualities compared to other migrant groups, with a higher than average proportion engaging in small and medium business enterprises.”

Refugee Council of Australia chief executive officer Paul Power said Dutton’s claims that refugees were simultaneously “illiterate and innumerate” and taking Australians’ jobs left many fair-minded Australians dreading what the ongoing election campaign would bring.

“Mr Dutton’s comments are not only incoherent, they contravene the evidence substantiated by the contributions of hundreds of thousands of refugees who have contributed to our country. In accusing refugees of being unemployable while simultaneously taking Australian jobs, Mr Dutton makes a bizarre non-sequitur,” Power said.

“We are in just the second week of an eight-week election campaign and already we have a cabinet minister launching an attack on a politically defenceless section of Australian society.

“The fact that this political attack is coming from the minister responsible for Australia’s refugee program makes it even more offensive. Refugees settling in Australia need a strong and constructive advocate in the Australian Government, not cynical political operatives that misrepresent their circumstances for short-term political advantage.”


Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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