NFPs Win Contracts to Support Refugees
28 July 2017 at 3:59 pm
The federal government has awarded multi-million dollar Commonwealth contracts to five not-for-profit organisations to deliver its new Humanitarian Settlement Programs.
The organisations are: Australian Red Cross Society (ACT and Surrounds and WA), Settlement Services International Limited (Sydney and Regional NSW), MDA Ltd (in partnership with Access) (Qld), Melaleuca Refugee Centre (NT), and AMES Australia (SA, Tas, Vic).
Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs, Senator Zed Seselja said: “The streamlined Humanitarian Settlement Program merges existing settlement services into one comprehensive program that will provide individualised case management support, based on need.
“It also has a renewed focus on English language, education and employment,” Seselja said.
AMES Australia said it had long and extensive experience in providing support to people newly arrived to Australia, including refugees, migrants and asylum seekers and for many years it had delivered similar programs in Victoria and elsewhere.
AMES Australia CEO Dr Belinda McLennan told Pro Bono News the organisation was excited by the work ahead, supporting the settlement of refugees that were new to Australia and working collaboratively with services across three states.
“We plan to work collaboratively with government and community groups and agencies in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia,” Dr McLennan said.
“Ames is a settlement services agency and our primary services are for people who have been in Australia for five years or less… the initial settlement period can be anything from six months up to two years or more for people, particularly refugees who have suffered torture and trauma.
“The work we are doing is quite comprehensive. We provide long and short term accommodation and health services. We address issues of torture and trauma. We really provide an initial orientation about getting things like a bank account and were the local school is.
“We introduce them as soon as possible to education; learning English, accessing employment. But if you don’t have a house and you don’t know where your kids are going to go to school that is much more fundamental to people.
“So this contract is all about orienting people to Australia and introducing them to those service agencies when they arrive.”
“Last year across Victoria, where we have had the contract until now and where we had the additional Syrian [refugee] arrivals we saw about 7000 individual clients. We can probably extrapolate that given that we won’t have the Syrians in the next couple of years [we will help] probably 5000 people across three states but it really depends on how quickly they arrive.”
McLennan said the organisation already had a large number of professionally qualified staff in the current Victorian contract.
“So they will be transferring their skills and expertise into the new contracts. In terms of the other states we will be working with with those states to see what the staffing needs are and there are a lot of agencies that have been providing those services over a period of time and there are a lot of qualified people. So we will be drawing on that expertise.
“The contract is for five years and then there’s capacity to be extended. It’s enough of a time to do some good work and get some good outcomes,” McLennan said.
Australian Red Cross director of migration, emergencies and movement Noel Clement said: “Australian Red Cross has been providing support to people who arrive in Australia seeking protection for 25 years, and that expertise puts us in a strong position to deliver this program successfully for the next five years.”
“We look forward to working with government, service providers established and new, and our dedicated staff and volunteers, to build the skills and knowledge for social and economic well-being of clients,” Clement said
“Our goal is that all new migrants have their humanitarian needs met and are fully enabled to contribute to and thrive in Australian society.”
Australian Red Cross director WA Linda Crumlin said: “We have a suite of resources across the country that we can use to support these new settlers, such as hubs where asylum seekers and other migrants can drop in for on-the-spot help.
“Many refugees and asylum seekers have had Red Cross support in their home countries, and we hope they will feel secure knowing we are here to help them settle in Australia,” she said.
Settlement Services International (SSI) CEO Violet Roumeliotis said the new contract was “exciting news for SSI and its team who had delivered settlement services for the past six years under the current Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS) program”.
“I am excited by the prospect of leading SSI into this new era of settlement services for Australia’s humanitarian entrants with a greater emphasis on English language proficiency; education and development; and employment,” Roumeliotis said.
“Under our current HSS contract the three ‘Es’ are areas that SSI has incorporated for some years now as part and parcel of our service delivery.
“We’re very pleased that they’ve now been formalised as a key part of the new contract. We see this as positive reinforcement of our good work under the HSS program.
“I am confident that the move to a more outcomes-focused model will lead to improved integration for refugees and better social cohesion in our communities.”
The contracts start at the end of October.