The Australians taking in Syria's refugees

Kellie Power's home in leafy suburbs on Sydney's northern beaches is just about as far away as you can get from the chaos and misery of the migrant crisis gripping Europe.

As she plays fetch with her dog Tim in the backyard, she's surrounded by tall gum trees and her pool is nestled between a neatly clipped lawn and a generous balcony.

One family to be accepted in Australia's promised intake of 12,000 Syrian refugees will soon be part of Kellie Power's comfortable life, at least for a short time.

"This is a wonderful way to give them a head start by welcoming them into our homes and helping them integrate into the community from day one," she said.

Kellie hasn't even notched up a year in her home but a spare bedroom and her converted attic will be providing privacy and quiet space to comfortably house a family of three or four.

"I think as human we connect at an individual level and I think there are ways to get around [the language barrier] as well."
The idea of providing support and care of people traumatised by civil war and unspeakable atrocities doesn't faze her.

"I do with the support that the government will be providing for the refugees as well. There will be various cultural counselling services and more extensive counselling services that I would look to tap into as well in helping to resettle these people," she said.

David Bycroft is Director of the Australian Homestay Network, which is one of various agencies likely to help facilitate the government's plan.

The organisation ran a similar scheme in 2012 when asylum seekers in immigration detention were offered spots in the community.

He said concerns about criminals or even terrorists slipping through the net and entering Australia are far-fetched and unwarranted.

"We had the same scares last time as well when we were looking at the placement of those in detention and can I tell you we had no incidents from 600 placements last time," he said.

Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, the parliamentary secretary to the Minister for Social Services, said the Government needed assistance from all tiers of government as well as community groups, to make the initiative a success.

“Because we’re seeking to do this in a relatively short period of time, we need to work with community groups, we need to work with other organisations in terms of some of those logistics.”

However she wouldn't commit to a timetable for when the Syrians would arrive and how long the process of resettlement for the 12,000 would take.

In the meantime, Kellie Power is keen to ponder new ways of getting over the language barrier in anticipation of her impending guests.

"I think as human we connect at an individual level and I think there are ways to get around that as well," she said.

3 min read
Published 19 September 2015 at 4:27pm
By Janice Petersen
Source: SBS