The Baird government will offer refugees a priority pathway to public service jobs in a new commitment that puts it at odds with recent comments by federal Immigration Minister Peter Dutton.
At least 100 public sector jobs will be created for refugees over the next 12 months. Although the scheme has been designed to assist the additional intake of refugees fleeing conflict in Syria and Iraq, all refugees who arrived after December 2015 are eligible.
“No refugee comes here wanting to live off welfare. They all want to build new lives for their family,” said the NSW Co-ordinator General for Refugee Resettlement, Peter Shergold.
Extra intake triggers government decision: A dinghy arrives in Greece with more than 60 Syrian refugees, most of them children. Photo: Pedro Armestre/Save the Children
The move stands in contrast to comments made a fortnight ago by Mr Dutton, who said “illiterate and innumerate” refugees “would be taking Australian jobs” or “languish” on the dole.
The refugee lawyer and University of Western Sydney graduate Deng Thiak Adut, chosen by Mr Baird to deliver the Australia Day address, reportedly said he would no longer vote for the Liberal Party because of Mr Dutton’s remarks.
Professor Shergold said the NSW government was the single largest employer in the state, and wanted to lead the way in offering jobs to newly arrived refugees.
“For the Premier it is important, if he is saying to the private sector, ‘Businesses can you help?’, he is now able to say, ‘I am making sure that the NSW government, as an employer, is working with you to do this’.”
Professor Shergold has met with each of the department secretaries and the Public Service Commissioner, Graeme Head, to look at ways to open up jobs.
The NSW public sector’s workforce diversity rules have been changed to categorise humanitarian visa holders in the same way as disabled or Indigenous job candidates.
“It will be open to anyone who arrives as a refugee, from December last year, and they can apply during their first five years here,” Professor Shergold said.
NSW settles 4000-5000 refugees a year, and will additionally resettle half of the 12,000 Syrian intake pledged by former prime minister Tony Abbott. Mr Baird had urged Mr Abbott to lift Australia’s refugee quota in response to the Syrian crisis and “do more”.
Professor Shergold said most of the 6000 Syrians and Iraqis to be settled in NSW will be children, with only 1500 adults expected, of which 800 were likely to be looking for work.
“Although there will be refugees who arrive that do not have English language skills or do not have trade skills, there will be significant numbers who do,” he said.
“Refugees in Australia are given good support in their first few months,but what they really want most of all for their children is education and what they want for themselves and their older children is to find a way to get jobs. The more they pay their taxes, the more they contribute to Australian society.”
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/baird-to-give-refugees-priority-in-nsw-public-service-jobs-20160603-gpbfns.html#ixzz4AeqNSU4P