PO Box 94
Forest Hill 3131
Chairperson: Tel: 0424 441 051
MIGRANT SETTLEMENT COMMITTEE (EASTERN REGION)
Standing Committee of the Communities’ Council on Ethnic Issues (Eastern Region) Inc
Reg. No. A0017562S
Minutes – April 1st 2011
The Courtyard Room Whitehorse Civic Centre, 397 Whitehorse Road, Nunawading
1. Welcome – Sam welcomed MSC members and informed the meeting that David Manne from RILC would join the
meeting at 10.30am. Sam welcomed and introduced David on his arrival and members introduced themselves.
Leonie Burnham ECLC Inner East Office, Manager
Nick Butera CMY
Sally Chan Centrelink MSO
Alicia Chia Homesglen TAFE Teacher
Chris Cosgriff CCOEI, President
Mervat Dahdoule MIC Eastern Melbourne
Janet Dean Swinburne University
Belinda Gillam Knox City Council, Community Development Officer
Julie Hawkey LMCC
Margi Jelovcic Central East-Whitehorse PHaMs Mind
Suzette Kabaila Box Hill AMES, AEUM
Daisy Luo DIAC State Office, Settlement Grants Manager
Mark Melican BELS
Jasmina Mulugeta Foundation
Vivien Smale Consumer Affairs, EMR Regional Manager
Sam Navarria AMES, CCOEI
Glenys Sharma Working with Children’s Check
Vivian Tee City of Whitehorse, Community Development Officer
Desiree Terrill EACH
Sui Ting Tse CCOEI, Louise Multicultural Community Centre
Clary Verbunt CCOEI
Joseph Agwalama DOJ, MLO
Jeska Chamberlain VicPol
Glenis Crocker CCOEI, Secretary
Mark Davies Centrelink
Twanny Farrugia CCOEI
Leigh Gilmore Sheriff Office Box Hill, Sheriff Officer
Jack Intsiadis Centrelink MSO
Maureen McConnell CHAOS and EVAC
Kiri Mckendrick Sheriff Office Ringwood, Sheriff Officer
Madeleine Parker DEECD, School Development Officer ESL
Kirsten Reedy Manningham City Council, Planning and Development Officer
Meg Scolyer Eastern Access Community Health, Health Promotion Officer
Cynthia Shaw Louise Multicultural Community Centre, CCOEI
Elizabeth Sidiropoulos VicPolice
Merilyn Spratling EACH
Fred Warren Holmesglen TAFE
Heather Weaver AMES Box Hill, Education Unit Manager
Kim West Vic Police
MSC Minutes April 2011 1
3. Minutes of March meeting
Minutes circulated prior to the meeting. Moved Chris seconded Vivian. Accepted.
4. Business Arising:
Business arising incorporated in the agenda.
5. Settlement Needs in your Area – MSC members should use this form to highlight unmet settlement needs for
discussion at MSC and to forward to DIAC.
6. Discussion item
The Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre: overview of the work of RILC and developments in immigration law –
David Manne, RILC Executive Director, Principal Solicitor and Migration Agent.
David noted that RILC is a small organisation that has been operating for 22 years. It has limited funding with few staff and
around 70 volunteers who provide assistance under supervision. David made available the RILC Annual Report and
referred MSC members to the RILC website www.rilc.org.au for more information. RILC helps over 4,000 people annually.
Apart from philanthropic grants and donations, the work of RILC is supported by Federal Government funding, under the
Immigration Advice and Application Assistance Scheme (IAAAS), and Victorian State Government funding, mainly under
the Community Legal Service Program (CLSP) administered by Victoria Legal Aid.
Under DIAC’s IAAAS, RILC provides free advice and representation to asylum seekers and people with general
immigration matters in the community and in immigration detention, as well as community information sessions.
Through recurrent funding under the CLSP, RILC provides legal advice and casework, community education, law reform
David described the work of RILC under three main areas: legal advice and assistance, advocacy, education.
Legal advice and assistance - RILC provides free legal advice and assistance in relation to refugee,
immigration, and citizenship matters. Legal assistance and advice is via the telephone advice line service which
operates twice a week on Wednesdays from 10-4 and Fridays from 2-4, and face to face via an Evening Advice
Service every Monday evening where individual cases are investigated. Appointments are essential. The
Evening Advice service is staffed by two RLC lawyers who supervise a team of volunteers who are registered
migration agents trained by RILC. Supervision ensures that high quality advice is provided.
He noted that the service is under funded relative to need. He stressed that if agencies identify persons in need
of RILC services who find it difficult to get through the telephone service, they could email RILC on
firstname.lastname@example.org . This means of communication should be used sparingly to avoid over burdening the system.
Given the enormous need, RILC identifies, appraises and prioritises service delivery and identifies which cases
should receive priority. A casework meeting each week of 2-3 hours is a critical part of RILC process to share
knowledge and choose which cases to take on.
Advocacy – RILC focuses on policy review and reform to improve the system. Its experience with migrant and
refugee immigration issues is translated into information and proposals for reform. Based on experience, RILC
assesses the impact of policies and rules, and advocates for policy and procedural changes. As the system is
complicated, RILC helps people understand how it operates by clarifying issues of policy and process.
Examples of advocacy include appearing before a parliamentary enquiry in Canberra re the proposal for a
Commonwealth Children’s Commissioner, arguing the case for having a commissioner who would act
independently of government and in the best interests of children. RILC pointed out the contradiction of the
current situation where the Minister is the guardian as well as the detainer of unaccompanied minors.
RILC also advocates on behalf of individuals, and David pointed to the case of a 15 year old Afghan boy
detained on Christmas Island who was deliberately, and without reason, prevented by the authorities to talk with
his parents who were overseas. The case was resolved locally rather than escalating it to court action.
Advocacy work is also done through the media with RILC contributing to the discussion for better policy options.
RILC significantly engages with government at high levels, including discussions at national level with the DIAC
Minister. This dialogue is very constructive.
RILC has also an international presence and is a member of the UNHCR Advisory Board to the High
Commissioner in Geneva. Although RILC is small, its expertise in a specialised area places it in a good position
to contribute to the global discussion on policies and how they work in practice. David noted as an example
Australia’s detention policy and how years ago the Government adopted the policy of no mandatory, indefinite,
MSC Minutes April 2011 2
arbitrary detention and that detention would be used as a measure of last resort and for the shortest practical
time and only if there was clear evidence of risk to the community. This is still the current policy which was put to
Geneva in January 2011. It does not reflect the reality that there are around 6,500 people currently indefinitely
detained in immigration detention centres around Australia.
Education is the third main area of activity. Education ranges from community talks to writing articles and
papers, comment in the media, and presenting to primary and secondary school students and various
RILC run professional courses for people who work in the area, PD programs for migration agents and
continuing professional development.
A test case that brings together all areas of RILC work, but particularly legal advice, assistance and advocacy was the High
Court decision in November 2010 in relation to two Tamil asylum seekers. The decision by the High Court challenged the
government’s view that people coming by boat in excised territory would be processed under a different regime than those who
arrived on the mainland. In effect onshore arrivals would have all the ordinary legal processes available to them, including the
right to appeal and guaranteed natural justice and procedural fairness. RILC held the view that decisions made daily by
government through its officials are in fact subject to the scrutiny of the courts, and judged on the basis of whether they are
constitutional and follow procedural fairness. There is nothing illegal about processing people offshore so long as the rule of law
is applied. The decision by the High Court of Australia was a game changer. One of the real benefits of the decision by the High
Court was to focus decision makers on the importance of getting it right at the primary review stage by taking extra care to
ensure that their decisions have a sound basis in law. The High Court decision may have cast doubt on numerous government
decisions that have led to deportation.
Q: if the processing centre is in another country would that have an impact?
A. David noted that it depends on the scheme itself but his view is that it would not and that it may contravene the Obligations
under the Refugees Convention whereby a person who arrives on Australian territory should be able to seek and be guaranteed
protection from persecution under the laws of Australia. The offshore processing plan “seeks to circumvent these obligations by
deflecting responsibilities to another country in the region”.
Q. What if Indonesia, the primary point of arrival for many boat people, were to be the processing point?
A. Indonesia is not a signatory to the Refugee Convention, and has not a good track record on human rights. It would not be a
good solution to the issue.
Q. Have you heard of the release of detainees into community detention – especially around the Dandenong area –
prior to being deported?
A. Not heard of anything about that but of the attempt to speed up the processing of detainees. People that are locked up for
long periods are going to need much help – cases of self harm, and suicides, have been reported in the media. There has been
more attention of late in relation to children and other vulnerable people. The main area at the moment has been to take people
from Christmas Island to other detention centres.
Q. How can we help?
A. Good referrals. Bring to the attention of RILC problems with service delivery at RILC’s end – feedback is always good - e.g.
note to RILC anyone who has had problems getting help. RILC needs to ensure that people get the help they need.
7. MSC Calendar 2011: meeting focus and forums.
MEETING FOCUS DATE/ FORUMS/ACTIVITIES
MONTH and working groups
Settlement Services (IHSS, CCS; AMEP; SGP) in 04 Feb
Victoria: Leah Nichles, Director, Settlement and
Multicultural Affairs, DIAC
METEC: Neill Sheldon 04 March Harmony Day
Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre (RILC) – The 01 April
work of RILC and developments in immigration law
David Manne (RILC)
New settlement services program: Jenny Richards, 06 May Interfaith: working group – local government: Vivian (City of
DIAC. Ramesh Kumar, HSS AMES Consortium in Whitehorse), CCOEI.
attendance. Family violence forum: Meg (EACH), Glenis (CCOEI), Jeska
(VicPol), Leonie (ECLC)
Family Support programs and services 03 June Refugee Week: focus on youth. Convenor Mervat (MIC),
(organisations delivering services: Uniting Care, Jeska (VicPol), Chris (CCOEI), Heather (AMES Box Hill),
Anglicare, Family Relationships Australia) Nick (CMY), Janet (Swinburne University), Robyn (MIC),
Leonie (ECLC), Joseph (Department of Justice), Vivian (City
MSC Minutes April 2011 3
Or of Whitehorse)
Overview: DIAC’s Community Liaison Officers (TBC)
Employment workshop/forum (Swinburne Croydon campus)
Or the new VMC 3 June. Focus: refugees. Convenor Sally (Centrelink), reps
from Swinburne, CCOEI, Centrelink Career Information
No meeting 01 July
Provisional spouse entrants: access/lack of access to 05 Aug Carers / Aged Care. Working group: CCOEI, MIC
services (speakers from Immigrant Women’s (suggested speaker – Sharon Porteous. Cynthia will discuss
Domestic Violence network) with Sharon)
Issues for asylum seekers – gaps in servicing? 02 Sept Refugee Health forum. Possible theme: social determinants
(Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (explore MSC to of health (employment, language, housing etc.) and refugee
visit/meet at the centre) entrants. Working group to be convened by Meg (EACH),
reps from Refugee Health Nursing Service, OEPCP, CCOEI,
Merilyn (EACH), Robyn (MIC), Jacky Close, Lena D.
International Students Working Group: Leonie and/or Vivian
convenor, Pip Smith (Knox City), Vivien (CAV), Cynthia
The LEAD PROJECT – 12 months hence: has the 07 Oct
project made a difference to local communities?
MSC review 2011 and planning 2012 04 Nov Employment, Education and Training expo/forum at
Swinburne Wantirna campus, 11 November. Focus: skilled
migrants and refugees. Working group: Convenor Sally
(Centrelink), Swinburne and CCOEI reps.
No meeting 02 Dec
Other areas identified previously may be included: VMC and Local Government: progress in CALD practices in LGAs;
Volunteering and mentoring: a focus on CALD; DIAC Community Liaison Officers: overview and report of CLO work.
8. Forum reports and Agency Reports
AMEP – common to all AMEP providers in the East:
Preparing for the delivery of the new AMEP contract from July 1
Settlement program is part of the new AMEP - focus on settlement as well as language outcomes. Materials have
been produced in various languages. Settlement content is general as well as local
Employment pathway programs continuing
AMEP – Box Hill AMES (Suzette)
Addition to the February report:
Employment Pathways specific to Box Hill starting 27th April: Pathways for Professionals, Retail/Hospitality (includes
food handling, coffee making and OH&S), preparation program for Children’s Services. Flyers to be circulated to
MSC. These programs of 10 weeks include 2 weeks work placement and 8 weeks in class working on job specific
English. They are an excellent opportunity for clients who are job ready.
AMEP day and evening classes have been very full this term.
AMEP – Holmesglen (Alicia)
Addition to the February report:
Bilingual classes for speakers of Chinese
AMEP – Swinburne (Janet)
Addition to the February report:
Good number of classes across campuses
Customers can call 1800 805 260 to lodge feedback about DEEWR employment services
As from 4 April 2011, Centrelink offices Belgrave, Boronia, Lilydale and Ringwood will belong to the North East
Melbourne HSS service region in the new contract. Sally will be working with North East Melbourne HSS coordinators
and community guides. Spectrum is in the consortium.
MSC Minutes April 2011 4
The Department of Human Services (DHS - Federal) consists of the Central Department, the Child Support Agency
(CSA) and CRS Australia. Human Services portfolio agencies include: Centrelink, Medicare Australia and Australian
Hearing. As part of the Australian Government's service delivery reforms, people will soon be able to access more
services under one roof.
Developments re Multicultural Advisory Unit - Letter written to the Premier of Victoria. Response of acknowledgement
from the Deputy Premier. The situation for MAU is dire - its services are marked for closure. Urge organisations to
Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place – cultural Open Day and market on Saturday 2nd April, barbecue and
market stalls. All welcome (47 Pattison Street Ringwood East 9870 8358)
CCOEI supports ECLC’s proposal to state and federal governments to fund a Community Legal Centre based in the
Yarra Ranges (ECLC has completed a research project highlighting a range of local issues that require legal help).
SGP – assessment of new applications for funding. Outcome available by end of May
Government Inquiry into Multiculturalism in Australia - community input invited. The inquiry looks into the economic,
social and cultural impacts of migration and makes recommendations to maximise the positive benefits of migration.
The Joint Standing Committee on Migration is seeking written submissions from interested persons and organisations
preferably via email to email@example.com. Submissions should be received by Friday 8 April 2011. An extension of
time, if required, can be requested from the Committee Secretary
Invitation to Jenny Richards, Manager DIAC Humanitarian Settlement Services section, to attend the next meeting of
the MSC given the interest expressed by MSC members – Daisy to follow up.
Steps 2 Safety - a DVD explaining the Family Violence Intervention Order process in an easy to understand way.
Refer to website for download www.eclc.org.au . Aim is to have the DVD in 5 languages.
Law Week 2011: 16 - 22 May. 2011 theme is 'Law and justice in your community'. The program involves over 100
organisations, who work with Victoria Law Foundation to present seminars, exhibitions, lectures, Q&A sessions, court
and parliament tours, and other public events and displays designed to provide legal information at little or no cost
Family violence forum – call for people interested in joining working party.
Local Government City of Whitehorse (Vivian)
Whitehorse Harmony Day Festival - The event attracted a very culturally diverse crowd. Although attendance
numbers were lower than expected, the event offered a wide range of activities and performances and there has been
overall positive feedback from attendees and participants. Thank you to all the community organisations and groups
that participated in this event. Council will be reviewing the event to improve promotion, attendance, site layout and
other matters for next year.
Eastern Metropolitan Region Interfaith Network Forum - Forum on 15 March with 43 attendees from all 7 Eastern
Metropolitan local government areas. Overall positive feedback from attendees particularly about the opportunity to
meet, learn and discuss with other local interfaith networks. Majority of attendees want an annual or regular regional
event to progress regional exchanges and potentially joint activities/projects. Council officers responsible for interfaith
issues will continue to meet regularly to build on this event.
Local Government City of Knox (Belinda)
Knox City Festival on the 5th and 6th of March – around 45,000 people attended the festival
Knox City Diversity Week function 24th March. Karen Kitchen Project participants catered to 110 people - the first time
that the Karen Kitchen had been engaged as a social enterprise
During Law Week on 19th May education event taking people through justice system
Justice for Refugees expo to be held during Refugee Week
Working With Children’s Check (Glenys)
Working with Children’s Check translated into 33 languages
Outreach to provide information with bilingual support – requires 10 people for session to take place. CALD
organisations being targeted.
People working as volunteers do not need to pay for checks
MSC Minutes April 2011 5
EACH (Meg via email communication)
Present at future MSC meeting the MYSPN RAG (Maroondah Youth Service Providers Network Refugee Action
Group) findings from the youth consultation youth forum held on Wednesday 23rd November, 2010.
Harmony Day to be held on Saturday 9th April, 2011
MSC Health Forum 15th September, 2011 (TBC), venue TBC. Theme: Settings based approach to refugee health;
including schools, workplaces, and community projects. (A ‘settings’ based approach is one that recognises and
ensures that the environments that we work, live and play in are conducive to health and wellbeing). Also aim to
showcase projects across the life span (e.g. mums & bubs, school aged, workforce, & older adults)
Program outline: Welcome; Guest speaker to give broader context; Series of local presentations; Panel discussion;
Day will also include info stalls with flyers from local organisations working with refugee & migrant communities;
Possibly some entertainment from refugee / migrant communities
Updates: Currently developing invitations to guest speakers / presenters / panel members; anyone wishing to be
involved in working group please contact Meg Scolyer – EACH Health Promotion
Trivia night on Saturday May 10 - donation requested
Multicultural Sports day over two days: day 1 on April 2 and Day 2 on May 9
Refugee Week working group: focus of refugee week will be art exhibition exhibiting artists from refugee background.
Possible venue in Mooroolbark. Exhibition and performances. Mainstream community will be invited to take part.
Exhibition will be over a couple of weeks.
Youth Forum (Nick)
Youth forum in 2010 supported by CCOEI – forum successful and report published.
Leadership skills for young people (media, project management, etc) a very important area
Following format of youth forum in 2010, youth forum in 2011 will have rotating speakers at each table, with bilingual
support. The venue foyer will have a skills focus and display. More information at future meetings.
Central East-Whitehorse PHaMs Mind (Margi)
CALD resources – interpreters provided through government support
9. Next Meeting: Friday 6th May 2011
Focus: Overview of new Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS) program
Speaker: Jenny Richards, DIAC Manager HSS section, Victoria State Office
MSC Minutes April 2011 6