Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Shortfall in Refugee Funding; City's Support Services Are Stretched Thin

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Shortfall in Refugee Funding; City's Support Services Are Stretched Thin

Article excerpt

Byline: Matthew Newton Matthew.Newton@thechronicle.com.au

A SHORTFALL in funding for refugee support services in Toowoomba will see Mayor Paul Antonio lead a delegation to Canberra in a bid to secure a "substantial" increase in the amount of money available to the Garden City.

In recent years, Toowoomba's refugee intake has far outstripped the funding of services for refugees after their first year of settlement.

From 2011 up until 2015, the city's total refugee intake was about 170 a year.

The Syrian civil war saw that number rise to about 300-350 a year.

During 2018/19, Toowoomba will settle about 800 refugees, nearly three quarters of whom are of the persecuted Yazidi minority fleeing ISIS in the Middle East.

But Federal Government funding is lagging behind that intake by almost half of what CatholicCare Social Services Toowoomba director Kate Venables said was required.

According to CatholicCare Toowoomba Refugee and Migrant Service's calculations, current funding levels were only adequate for the settling of about 350-400 refugees a year, Mrs Venables said.

Cr Antonio said that as soon as he found out who the responsible minister would be, he, Mrs Venables and Groom MP Dr John McVeigh and others would be heading to the nation's capital.

It seems Toowoomba has become a victim of its own success when it comes to settling refugees.

"It disappoints me that nobody (from the Federal Government) has come to me three months in advance to say 'because you do it so well we will bring you more people' and that's sad, and the fact they haven't provided the funding is sad," Cr Antonio said.

He also reiterated the need for a languages and cultural academy to be established in Toowoomba - a place where migrants, uni students and refugees could learn English and get a better understanding of Australia's unique culture. …

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