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A number of families seeking asylum have benefitted from an
Australian-first pilot program introduced this year by City of Canterbury Bankstown.
one of the largest populations of people seeking asylum in Sydney, including 78 children aged five or under. While Lakemba is the suburb with the highest number of people on bridging visas in Australia.
As a result, Mayor Khal Asfour launched Council’s Asylum Seeker Family Partnerships program, supported by the Asylum Seekers Centre, Sydney Alliance, and Uniting.
“It is one of my proudest achievements as Mayor,” he said.
“As we draw to the end of the 12 month trial,
we have been able to help nine families to date.
“These families are among the most vulnerable in Australia and deserve a break. They face many challenges when they arrive in Australia, including learning English and going through the time-consuming process of applying for asylum. By providing this opportunity, parents are able to do that, knowing their children are also socialising with their own age, at the same time.
“Unfortunately, asylum seeker families seeking child care do not qualify for the Government subsidies which makes child care that much more unreachable, robbing both parents and children of the many opportunities and benefits that come from early childhood education.
“Our program is a win win for the families and our residents because, importantly, it doesn’t come at a cost to ratepayers, with only vacant places not taken up by local families at our children’s services facilities, allocated.”
The program is part of the City of Canterbury Bankstown’s commitment to being a Refugee Welcoming City, the first council to achieve such status in Australia, after signing the Refugee Council of Australia’s Refugee Charter, in 2008.
“We will shortly assess whether we have the capacity to continue the Asylum Seeker Family Partnerships program next year,” Mayor Asfour said.
“We are also aware of other councils which are looking at the possibility of introducing similar programs in their local areas. I hope our success makes their decision an easier one.”
19/11/2019 9:38 AM