IN a city whose population is made up by a significant percentage of refugees, Minister for Immigration, Peter Dutton’s remarks that “illiterate and innumerate” refugees would take Australian jobs or “languish” on the dole and use free health services provided by Medicare has been met with strong criticism.
Logan is home to the successful refugee resettlement agency Access Community Services. CEO Gail Ker said it was important that there be bipartisan support for refugees settled in Queensland.
“Australia has a broad migration program that takes in about 200 000 migrants a year. Of that figure only 13 750 are refugees, the rest are skilled and professional migrants and students,” she said.
“Our experience with refugees has shown that they come here with so much gratitude and a desire to invest in their future and the future of Australia.
“They value education and opportunity tremendously and even the women of sole-headed households that are settled here are determined to work.
“Children of refugees and migrants do very well in Australia, sometimes better than their Australian-born peers.”
Refugee Council of Australia chief executive officer Paul Power said Mr Dutton’s claims that refugees were simultaneously “illiterate and innumerate” and taking Australians’ jobs were not only incoherent, they contravene the evidence substantiated by the contributions of hundreds of thousands refugees who have contributed to our country.
“Recent research from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that, in the longer term, refugees are more likely than other groups of Australians to be developing small businesses, creating jobs and building economic opportunities for others,” he said.
Of the approximately 1.1 million small business operators in Australia, 28 per cent were born overseas, including one third of company founders recently featured on the BRW Fast Starters list.
Last week the Queensland Migrant Small Business Expo, which was held over two days in Logan and Brisbane, attracted more than 600 participants.
“It is an example of not only the overwhelming enthusiasm to contribute demonstrated by the migrant and refugee community, but the government’s success in funding settlement services,” Ms Ker said.
“Australia is a successful migration nation and will continue to be so.”
Jimboomba Times asked Member for Forde Bert van Manen and Member for Wright Scott Buchholz for their comment on the Minister’s remarks. Mr van Manen responded with a statement from the Minister’s office and Mr Buchholz refrained to comment.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.