Doubt on plans for refugees

Wangaratta baulks, but Indigo interested in safe haven scheme

THE Rural City of Wangaratta has stood back from a scheme to settle refugees in country communities because it has been unable to marshal all information about the resources required to support its participation.

But neighbouring Indigo Shire Council has recognised that while not all the details of the Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) have been decided, the scheme could offer opportunities to help refugees and to develop local communities.

Indigo formally responded to a Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) call before June 30 to signal interest in partnering the Commonwealth and state governments and other Victorian councils in the scheme.

The visa is to become available to refugees who arrived in Australia before July 2013 by means which the government defines as “illegal – such as boat – and who were then found to qualify for Australia’s protection.

The association estimates there are about 10,000 people in this category now living in Victoria on temporary bridging visas.

They are officially barred from work or study.

But if they qualify for the new visa – which the Federal Government introduced late last year but is yet to finalise – they will be able to live, work and study in a participating country community provided they agree to do so for five years.

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