Refugee support services get budget boost

Transitional services for refugees and migrants have been topped up amid a federal budget scant on immigration details.

The government has put aside $27 million in refugee and migrant funding over three years towards youth support, specialised services for women experiencing domestic violence and settlement support for Afghan humanitarian visa holders.

There is an additional $3.8 million for English classes in community hubs across Australia over four years and $1 million for volunteer settlement services as part of an integration scheme pilot.

‚ÄúThese investments ensure newly resettled refugees in Australia are provided the support they need to succeed in the community,‚ÄĚ Home Affairs Minister Clare O‚ÄôNeil and Immigration Minister Andrew Giles said in a joint statement.

An additional $900,000 was flagged for families and individuals affected by the Israel-Hamas war in 2024/25, with monetary aid available for those in hardship and an extension of Medicare eligibility for those on E-class bridging visas.

An undisclosed amount of funding for security improvements at a high-security immigration detention centre in Western Australia was announced, with details scant as industry contracts are yet to be inked.

The Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre in the remote town of Northam, east of Perth, was deemed partially ‚Äúno longer fit for purpose‚ÄĚ by the Australian Human Rights Commissioner Lorraine Finlay in April.

Drug trafficking and inadequate health care were raised as serious concerns by the commission after a two-day visit in May 2023.

Top-up funding for the Department of Home Affairs has been flagged, with $100 million for salaries and other core operational expenses allocated.

Migrant workers will also be supported through $15 million in educational programs to teach about workplace protections and compliance, as the government attempts to stop exploitation in the labour market.

A data-matching pilot of income and employment figures between the Department of Home Affairs and the tax office will also aim to stop abuse in the migration system, costed at $1.9 million.

 

Esther Linder
(Australian Associated Press)

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