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Community support will play a critical role in the successful settlement of an estimated 200 refugees in NSW regional hub Armidale, according to leading humanitarian settlement not-for-profit Settlement Services International (SSI).

Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter, announced on Friday that SSI had been contracted to provide on-the-ground settlement services to an estimated 200 refugees who will settle in Armidale in 2018 as part of the Humanitarian Settlement Program (HSP). SSI was recently successful in obtaining the contract for two of the 11 HSP contract regions: Sydney and NSW regional, which includes Newcastle, Coffs Harbour and the newly defined Armidale refugee settlement area.

CEO Violet Roumeliotis said SSI would provide essential support and information to assist refugees to live independent, meaningful lives in Armidale, but she also encouraged the local community to get involved.

“We’ve already seen that welcoming spirit demonstrated in the strong push from within the community for Armidale to be a settlement location for refugees. Continued support and engagement from the community is critical to ensuring refugees feel at home in Armidale and can become independent, successful members of the community,” she said.

“Other critical factors during settlement include access to employment and education, and English language proficiency. The three ‘Es’ are areas SSI has emphasised during the current settlement program, which we have delivered for the past six years. We’re pleased that these have now been formalised as a key part of the HSP contract.”

Ms Roumeliotis said she had no doubt the settlement of refugees in the Armidale region would have dual benefits for both new arrivals and the local community.

“We’ve seen this play out on a smaller scale in Mingoola, north of Armidale on the Queensland border, where a small group of refugees have settled” she said.

“One big benefit of settling these families in that township was that the local primary school could stay open. It also meant that the newcomers, who were originally from rural areas in Africa, were living and working in an area that was a good match for them. I have no doubt that the settlement of refugees in the Armidale region will be similarly fruitful.”

Media enquiries:

SSI Acting Communications Coordinator Hannah Gartrell 0488 680 287

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