The Australian Government?s commitment to providing sanctuary to refugee women and children at risk of exploitation has been highlighted by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, the Hon Teresa Gambaro MP.
?On International Women?s Day, no one should underestimate the plight of refugee women and children throughout the world. To put it simply, they are the most vulnerable of an already vulnerable group of people,? Ms Gambaro said today.
?Australia gives hope to these vulnerable women and children through the Woman at Risk visa category. The visa helps refugee women and their children who are subject to persecution and have no protection from a male relative to rebuild their lives in Australia with dignity and purpose.
?As a member of the Howard Government, as a woman and as a mother, I am proud that in 2005-06 the Australian Government granted nearly 1000 Woman at Risk visas. It was the highest number of visas issued since the category was introduced in 1989.
?More than 400 additional visas have been granted in the first half of 2006-07,? Ms Gambaro added.
Since the introduction of the Woman at Risk category, more than 7000 women and children have started a new life in Australia.
?Being granted a visa is only the start of the resettlement process. The Australian Government funds all travel and health costs, as well as specialist settlement services including English lessons and trauma counselling on arrival,? Ms Gambaro said.
Women and children are also highly represented in Australia?s mainstream humanitarian resettlement intake.
?In 2005-06 more than half of resettlement visas were granted to women and nearly 50 per cent were granted to children under 18 years of age,? Ms Gambaro said.
?Most were born in countries such as Afghanistan, Burma, Iraq, Liberia and Sudan.
?In the past 60 years, Australia has resettled more than 675 000 refugees and others in humanitarian need. Many of these resettled people are women who have prospered under Australian society?s commitment to gender equality,? she added.