House debates

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Statements by Members


1:49 pm

Photo of Andrew LamingAndrew Laming (Bowman, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

As a nation we welcome the 12,000 Iraqi and Syrian arrivals who have been deemed refugees and given permanent settlement in Australia. But when they come here, they do not come here simply for a life on welfare. They come here for the opportunity that Australia offers. Of those 12,000, 6,000 are here already and the employment outcomes are not good. I would be concerned if they do not have a chance to have at least one member of a family under a roof with employment. But alas—the employment figures for this group show 91 per cent on income support; 3½ per cent on disability and carer payments; and that means that around five per cent of these arrivals have a chance at employment. And it is not a long-term opportunity, either. Data going back 10 years shows that in this cohort, particularly from the Middle East, currently just nine per cent of them are in employment and 91 per cent of them from these parts of the world are on Centrelink as their only form of income.

As a nation, we can do better. You may defend resettlement as being settling into welfare, but this nation offers opportunity. It offers employment, and this group—just 40 people a day being processed—deserve to be individually placed into work with tailored arrangements and bridging opportunities for their qualifications. We need an intensive, case-managed approach to work. The great bounty of this great nation can offer refugees work, but the labour system prevents it.