Wednesday, May 30, 2012

From Burma to Bunbury: refugees may be resettled in WA coastal town

BURMESE refugees could soon be making their new home in the West Australian coastal town of Bunbury under a plan being considered by the Gillard government. 

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship is in talks with the town's mayor to resettle about eight Burmese families by the end of the year. Another 20 to 30 families could follow next year and in the years after.
The refugees would be resettled in homes in the community and would already have had their claims for asylum processed and been granted visas, according to City of Bunbury Mayor David Smith.
"They would be accommodated in the community in normal houses and would be supported by non-government and the government agencies here in Bunbury," Mr Smith said.
He said a team of officials from the department had visited Bunbury, 180km south of Perth, to assess the town's economic and social infrastructure. Mr Smith said the officials indicated they thought the town was a good resettlement location for Burmese refugees.

He said housing the refugees would be a positive for Bunbury, which already had links to the Burmese community.
"Post-World War II we had a few who came here when the English empire withdrew from Burma... I went to school with some of them," Mr Smith said, adding that Australia's acceptance of refugees was one of the nation's success stories.
"All migrants have made a positive impact in Bunbury."
A spokeswoman for the department said Bunbury was one location under consideration to accommodate refugees.
"The process is only in its very early stages and discussions with stakeholders so far have been preliminary," she said.
The spokeswoman said the department had settled refugees in regional areas across Australia for some years and that settlement only occurred when the department had the support of the local community and state government service providers.