Plans to re-settle refugees in Cooma

A newly-formed organisation - the Monaro Refugee Support Group - is to hold a public meeting at which it will outline plans to bring three or four refugee families to Cooma.

The Group's intention is to liaise with the Red Cross to identify and assist refugee families to re-settle in Cooma.

The families would receive practical assistance in finding accommodation, schooling and possibly employment.

The Refugee Support Group is actively and closely working with the Red Cross, which has a program in place to assist refugees to settle in regional areas.

Six teenagers, for example, were recently re-settled on the south coast and found jobs in the fishing industry.

The people coming to Cooma would have been found to be genuine refugees.

They would not be recently-arrived so-called boat people, most of whom are in detention centres waiting to have their claims processed.

It is possible the selected refugees would be from an African country. They would have similar backgrounds to each other, especially in terms of language, and would be able to provide mutual support.

It is likely the Cooma-Monaro Shire Council would be invited to help in identifying employment opportunities.

There are other refugee-support programs in place with the help of community groups and councils in Armidale, Wagga and Orange.

The Refugee Support Group was formed some weeks ago in response to concerns by some members of the community that Cooma could, and should, take an active role in re-settling refugees.

It follows tentative moves 12 months ago by the Rotary Club of Cooma to establish a refugee resettlement program.

This plan was abandoned, however, because it failed to gain sufficient support.

The Monaro Refugee Support Group, formed by community-minded citizens, is planning to hold a public meeting on April 5 at which the Red Cross will outline its programs, and how they could be applied to Cooma.

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