The Gold Coast is a culturally diverse city with one in four people born overseas. A small proportion of our residents have resettled here through the Department of Immigration and Citizenship's (DIAC) Humanitarian Program which selects and assists refugees to live in Australia. From 2005 to 2010, 378 refugees have resettled on the Gold Coast.
A refugee can be defined as a person who has fled their country and cannot return due to fear of persecution because of their religion, race, nationality, political opinion, and/or membership of a particular social group.
Currently, the Humanitarian Program focuses on three key areas which are Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Significant numbers of refugees are from these three areas. In 2010, DIAC allocated 13,750 places for refugees to resettle in Australia. Before a refugee is permitted to enter Australia, they are assessed on strict health, character and national security requirements.
A person who leaves their own country and seeks protection within Australia is known as an asylum seeker. When an asylum seeker arrives in Australia they are assessed on whether they fit the refugee definition and if so, provided with this status. Once they are provided refugee status, they are subject to the same assessment criteria as any other refugee who is resettled in Australia. If it is determined that the asylum seeker is not a refugee, they are sent back to their country, provided they are not at risk of any danger.
Through DIAC, refugees are assisted to access services such as Centrelink, Medicare and banking facilities. Refugees are entitled to the same entitlements as other Australian residents and do not receive higher benefits than other social security recipients. Refugees are taught Australian laws and culture, as well as English through the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP). They are also assisted to gain employment, find suitable accommodation, provided basic household goods and if required, referred to torture and trauma counselling.
Multicultural Families Organisation (MFO) on the Gold Coast is funded by DIAC to provide information and support for humanitarian entrants and refugees, and family stream migrants in the first five years from arrival to Australia. In the first 6 months refugees receive intensive support known as an Integrated Humanitarian Settlement Strategy (IHSS) and also receive assistance through the Settlement Grants Program (SGP). For more information regarding services offered by MFO, please contact them via telephone on (07) 5571 0381 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.