A number of media reports since the start of 2017 have claimed communities in western Sydney are concerned about the arrival of the extra cohort of 12,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees, using figures that are not supported by facts.
As one of the largest settlement services providers, we know that the main reasons our humanitarian clients choose to settle in an area are: affordability, availability of suitable housing, access to services such as schools, IEC, SSI, and proximity to family.
Most of the claims relate to the Fairfield LGA, one of eight areas where SSI delivers the Humanitarian Settlement Program in the Sydney metropolitan area. The HSS is funded by the Federal Government.
SSI is keen to clarify several key points being repeated in the media, often without substantiation or citing of sources. In some cases where sources are offered, correct data has been used to extrapolate incorrect conclusions.
This is an attempt to sort fact from fiction.
Syrian refugee arrivals claim 1:
More than 6,000 refugees from the Federal Government’s special Syrian humanitarian intake have been settled in Fairfield.
- As at February 3, 2017, 9,382 refugees of the 12,000 have arrived Australia-wide. (Department of Social Services website)
- NSW expects to take a total of 6,000 people; just over 5,000 have arrived to date (precise numbers are not publicly available). The figure for the entire state is substantially less than the 6,000 claimed in a number of recent media stories in relation to the Fairfield LGA
- During 2016, a total of about 4,700 refugees arrived in Fairfield (a mix of special and regular intake – DSS website’s Settlement Reporting Facility). Arriving in Fairfield does not equate to living in Fairfield on an ongoing basis, an important distinction
- In January 2017, SSI was supporting a total 3,700 clients in Fairfield (a mix of special and regular intake).
Syrian refugee arrivals claim 2
The Fairfield property market has become unaffordable, with demand outpacing supply. The median rent for a unit is about $500 a week.
- Median rent for a two bedroom unit in Fairfield LGA is $330 p.w. and $360 p.w. for a house according to NSW Rent & Sales Report September Quarter 2016 (latest Issue 117), well under the $500 cited in media stories
- Median rent for two bedroom unit in Fairfield suburb is $350 p.w. based on aggregated data from property listings on RealEstate.com.au
- The majority of arrivals are families of three to four people who prefer to rent two bedroom properties
- SSI sources properties in the Fairfield LGA on a regular basis – our experience is that property availability is no different to the rest of the Sydney market which remains tight. However, we continue to find properties for clients wishing to live in this area
- Of the top 10 Sydney settlement LGAs for refugees, Fairfield LGA remains the cheapest place to rent
- If we compare the top 10 Sydney settlement locations or suburbs for refugees, Fairfield remains the second cheapest suburb to rent (Mt Druitt is the cheapest).
Syrian refugee arrivals claim 3
Fairfield is struggling to settle refugees after a huge influx of new arrivals
- In the three months from November 2016 to January 2017, there were 737 arrivals in Fairfield. Fairfield LGA has a population of almost 200,000
- Funding of $146 million over four years was set aside by the NSW State Government in last year’s Budget to help Syrian and Iraqi refugees start a new life in NSW
- Services that received extra funding include: specialist health care and access to education and pathways to work. Other critical areas that received funding include specialist torture and trauma services, employment and community integration programs
- In relation to extra Federal funding, SSI recently received additional Settlement Services Program funding from DSS to provide support for additional clients resulting from the increased intake of refugees
- Allocations to NSW Settlement Partnership partners in Fairfield and Liverpool will fund additional services for the larger number of refugees settling in these areas.
SSI is a community-based, not-for-profit humanitarian organisation providing a range of services in the areas of humanitarian settlement, housing, asylum seeker assistance, multicultural foster care, disability support and employment services in NSW.
SSI Corporate Communications Manager, Angela Calabrese 0401 284 828
SSI Communications Assistant, Hannah Gartrell, 0488 680 287