Mining towns step up to offer help to refugees: But is it what residents want? 231



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A Mayor of one of Queensland’s mining town regions, the Western Downs has stepped out in from of the Syrian refugee debate to offer homes for up to 500 families or 1500 people in his towns.  His offer makes up more than 12 per cent of the 12000 places offered by Tony Abbott to the international community for people fleeing the Syrian regions. But it must be asked, is this what regional Australians want? And if it is, could we find a whole lot more homes in regional areas that are going begging thanks to the mining boom.

It’s a selfless move by Mayor Ray Brown he says in the Dalby Herald today. “This isn’t about building a future for the Western Downs, but for the displaced families… and I want the whole family,” he said. But he’s conscious he doesn’t want to do it without community support.

“I need the community with me on this. I’m looking for assimilation”.

The Councillor is earmarking towns that could take the refugees such as, Chinchilla, Miles, Tara and Wandoan.

“The beauty of this is that there are about 500 good quality rentals sprinkled across the region. The last thing I want is a fishbowl with people looking in”.

It seems like a logical repurposing of regional housing that is vacant due to declines in mining acceleration.   But The Mayor said it came down to the Federal Government to decide where the refugees would end up.

“We’ve put our hands up to say we can take them straight away”.

It leaves us wondering how many other mining regions, regional towns and areas struggling with economic change could also reach out to help, potentially providing homes for asylum seekers that we don’t seem to be able to fill with willing Australians.

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Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. Well they have to go somewhere and the Capitol cities can’t handle them all, there are very few rental properties in Sydney and the rents are very high, we have Australians living on the streets already

    1 REPLY
  2. As long as the community has agreed and there are rental properties. But if the properties are too high in rent and that is why locals can’t live there it should be looked at. Do they have a problem in that area where people can’t afford rent? Are we going them to refugees but not our homeless? As long as the rules are the same for everyone it’s a good idea. If they ate getting preferential treatment as far as affordability goes, that will add fuel to an already sensitive fire.

  3. May sound a good idea but are they going to look after the houses and interact with the people living there and not take the place over like so many suburbs in other states have and become geckos of filth and squalor we don’t Australia to be destroyed by these refugees we give them a chance of a better life but they want to take over our country hope the mayor thinks clearly about this and asks the residents of the town and really listens other wise it will too late

    11 REPLY
    • The Syrians I know here already are beautiful hard-working people. Many of the refugees Australia is planning to bring here are Christian, not Muslim. Many are well educated and come from big cities (like Damascus – because that is where the bombs are being dropped) They are not ignorant or used to 3rd world standards!

    • What a nasty pessimistic attitude. “Ghettos of filth and squalor”? “They want to take over our country”? Nice to read how sympathetic and empathetic you are to people in trouble. Not! Hope you never need help.

      1 REPLY
      • In the face of the mayor of Wandoan’s generous offer, Phyllis I suggest you give them a chance. Judy, your intolerance of Phyllis does not help to make your point.

    • Judy Green and you must live in an ivory tower.. wake up .try living in the real look at crap thay have left in their wake all over Europe…must be a bleeding heart lefty…

    • You only had to see the trail of rubbish they left in their wake travelling through Hungary to get an idea of what they will do to anything they are given here. IF they can’t respect what they are getting in Europe, why would they be any different here?

    • Paddy and Graham – I was waiting for somebody to make a comment like yours and you didn’t let me down! Please tell me where you would put your rubbish if there were no garbage bins, no wheelies, no facility whatsoever to put your rubbish. I agree it is an unholy mess, but what would you do if you were in their shoes?

    • Take a drive on some country roads, and see what the Australian population leaves behind, broken beerbottles in particular, but plasticbags and all sort of other rubbish, the counsils have to pay workers to pick rubbish from the side of the road, not to mention a load of asbestos found in a park. And we have got it so bad, hey?

    • And it just occured to me, Paddy and Graham. Have you ever seen the rubbish left behind by AUSTRALIANS after a football match, an outdoor music festival, a surf regatta? Ooops, forgot about that, didn’t you?

    • Yes, Barbara – but from what I’ve seen ()and I guess we’ve only seen a very small amount of what’s going on), most of the bad behaviour seems to be coming from small groups of young men. I have no doubt their photos will be recorded somewhere and they will have trouble getting into any country. They’ve given the good, well behaved people collectively a bad name. It’s all a terrible mess, isn’t it?

    • just look at all the snobbish comments, by who’s standard are you judging? The Syrian women will look at your homes & wonder why you haven’t repaired or cleaned them since the last cyclone. obviously not many people have had the pleasure of visiting Syria before the outbreak of the civil war, their homes & streets were kept immaculate, if you saw what has been turned to rubble by the allied forces bombs you would hang your heads with shame, just remember it only takes 1 bomb to turn the tables & you too would be knocking on someones door.

  4. Idiot Mayors, Once again We elect them and they screw Us over. !!

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    • Perhaps you could expand on that Barry, instead of being generally critical.

  5. No what about they’re jobs and homeless and Another 15 thousands on the welfare

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    • Patricia, it’s inevitable that the displaced Syrians will be on welfare at first but, as the mayor of Wandoan is no doubt thinking, they will need to spend locally and stimulate the economy. Some of them may even start up businesses (they should be allowed as permanent settlers). It may mean extra services for rural towns, too – another teacher or doctor – creating jobs.

  6. and what pray tell are they going to do in Wandoan??? what is the Mayor thinking or is he just limelighting ,,wants his 15 minutes of fame,, Wandoan will be like most other country towns, not enough infastructue, or employment or facilities,,, get real Council, dont be ridiculous,,,did he even ask his town what they thought ?? bet not

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    • if there are so many empty houses,,have you wondered why,,the work has dried up,, so here we have 500 or more people with no work prospects , isolated and left in a comunity struggling as it is,, great,,,

  7. People are so angry about this its going to happen whover offers to take them.Personally I feel a Referendum should have been held to allow the voters to decide if they want them here or not

  8. A lot of towns are in danger of losing business and government services as they grow too small. They need new people and more children to keep these services. There may be empty houses around the district. I watched a show on TV about bringing people into a town to add to the community and kids to the schools. It wasn’t a huge success, partly because house owners expected tenants to pay to upgrade and add value to a property they didn’t own. A lot of people on this site cry out that these people won’t assimilate. Just how much of that is their fault. A community needs to welcome them, include them, allow for their differences and appreciate that many of these people have seen or experienced horrors we can’t imagine, they maybe grieving and be in despair over missing family. Yes they can provide great benefits to a shrinking community but only if that community will allow them to become part of it.

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    • They don’t want to assimilate they just want to change our laws to their own. Is this what you want Barbara…..If so go & live in their country & see what you will be allowed to change of their laws. NOTHING……..

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      • They will need to be elected to have a chance of changing the law, Lorraine. That would take some numbers of people.

    • Good points, Barbara. Unfortunately, there is a lot of fear that has been fed by the media and even our prime minister.

    • They want to live in peace like the majority of us, most actually don’t want to change our laws just a tiny minority. Like all new influxes of people to unknown land, with language and customs strange to them they seek to live among those who are the same. The Italians and Greeks did it, then the Vietnamese. As they feel more comfortable they’ll move around more. How can they assimilate with attitudes like yours, if you are unprepared to treat them with tolerance, react with hostility to them, their beliefs and their culture don’t be surprised if they stick together and don’t regard you highly or that bigotry and ignorance you display as part of your culture. Heather, Diane and Lorraine just why would they want to assimilate to be as hateful as you it is just that type of bigotry they are trying to escape.

    • All sounds very idealistic, but, they won’t stay there. You are kidding yourselves. These remote country towns just don’t offer opportunities.

    • Heather Todd why would new migrants be rolling heads down a road? don’t recall it happening before & don’t we have laws to protect the populace? you never know, they just may be niave enough to buy your nutrimetics.

    • Tira I would rather aspire to do good than set out to do harm any day. If you approach life with hatred, suspicion and intolerance that is exactly what you will get back in return.

    • Tira Marlowe
      Who says they are muslims? ???
      As for not assimilating, how many Greek Orthodox churches are there in Australia? How many Italian clubs or Irish clubs or Jewish synagogues etc etc etc.
      Australia has always opened its arms to refugees and allowed yhem to bring their own religions and way of life.
      Your ancestors did this as did mine. I can see no reason why we can not continue to do so.

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    • Tira Marlowe, try helping these people, you may be surprised at how good you will feel when you do!

    • Tira Marlowe Neither do I. as though they want to work or live in the bush for that matter. they form ghettos in the big Cities.

    • Lee Horrocks like the people did in Martin Place, and plenty of other incidents which they like to keep hushed up.

    • Glenis how much violence in our community has absolutely nothing to do with Moslems. I have just been to Turkey and toured their mosques, no body was unwelcoming. Yes I had to dress appropriately with head scarf and my knees covered and go shoeless but I was in their place of worship. Have you approached your nearest mosque and asked to look around, I suspect you would be welcomed if you went with a friendly attitude and open mind and was prepared to observe their rules within the mosque. I know of other religions who do have restrictions on entry to their temples.

    • And who the hell are you to tell others what to think Barbara Easthope ?????? I am as entitled to my opinion as much as you are .

    • Diane I didn’t tell you what to think, you can think what you like. I just stated what some of the sentiments and opinions you express make you appear.

    • Being older than God, I have seen immigrants from Europe, the Mediterranean countries,the Vietnam refugees , Middle Eastern refugees, and no one has worried about any of them , they did at the time, but that was in the past. I see no one seems to be worried about the many, many, Chinese who have made Australia their home, or families from India. Their cultures and religions are very different from our Christian culture and beliefs.
      Particularly Hinduism. , with its many forms of God.
      So your argument is not valid
      Educate yourself, then you might have something worthwhile to say, not trash talk

    • Other foreigners did not bring into this country their savagery. They came here to work and better their life unlike the muslims. You now perfectly well they are all Muslims Ruth

  9. Time to help our own Aussies. Hockey raves on we can’t afford the old aged pensioners and now they want to bring 15.000. Into our homes and give them a lot more $$ then the pension and really what the heck are they going to do in wandonan there is barely. Enough work for the locals this mayor needs to stop looking for fame and look after his local. People.

    13 REPLY
    • It is a myth that refugees get more than pensioners. Even if they initially do nothing if there are no jobs. They will spend money in the town boosting the viability of local businesses, schools may be given additional resources instead of losing teachers, medical facilities may stay. If a community embraces the newcomers and incorporates them into a community they may join the volunteer fire service or ambulance service. I live in a country town I know the impact of population numbers. We just lost our hospital. Our volunteer ambulance service is struggling for lack of volunteers

    • Lot of good points Barbara and surely local businesses will profit. Perhaps the newcomers may be happy to live and contribute to the smaller communities where some others are not.

    • Barbara Easthope I don’t see the government giving young Australians $10,000 to set up home yet the refugees get it.

    • Anne Webber yes, and they have to fight like crazy to get help. There was one town in the Riverina a few years back that fought like hell to get government assistance but every excuse was thrown up not to give them anything.

    • God darn amazing how these people can come here and get everything layed on but we pensioners that have paid tax for years get treated like 2nd class citizens . We have our own citizens sleeping on benches cars and streets , where are the equal rights here no wonder people have depression and take there life .

    • I agree totally with you Michaels. We get nothing but they get it all our farmers get thrown of their land that have been in families for generations but governments turn their back on them but now open arms to refugees and give all

    • Give these people a chance to start a new life or go back home in the future, let’s show some compassion.

    • Michaele Dionysius Jenny Young so you have received nothing in return for your tax’s???? there is free medical treatment available for dementia go for it!!!

    • Our town has lots of empty homes and there is talk of the hospital closing. We need new blood.

      Graham Jackaman
      Can you please show me the evidence of your claims that refugees get all this money?????

    • Anne Webber.. Abbott cut the money for disasters

      During cyclone Yasi three years ago, the people of Townsville qualified for Federal Government disaster assistance under the Labor Party. This is $1000 per adult and $400 for each child. During the fires in the Blue Mountains last year; Abbott in all his humanitarian wisdom changed the criteria, so only those who have had suffered significant damage to their homes or had injury or death as a result were eligible. So many in desperate need after this cyclone are not eligible for assistance through the Federal Government.

    • Ongoing redundancies in mining towns; thus, where will these refugees be employed? Hospital closures will continue, as the Health Dep’t will have to rationalise expenditures; & education dep’t will have to offer subsidies to prospective teachers to relocate. Small businesses are closing as their costs far outweigh their profits. Easier said than done, i have to admit!

  10. Personally I think its a great idea. They will probably be employed by the mines and in turn will spend money in the towns where they live. So its good economically for these towns. I am all for it.

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    • I live in a semi rural area and NO thank you, I would not like any of the people here. We need every job that comes up for our local people and that includes housing. These people will not integrate. They will be in these smaller towns about 6 months and then will be demanding Mosques on every corner, special arrangements at schools, already Germans are being asked to cover up their daughter in case they are offensive to these people. Do not bury your heads in the sand again, look overseas, do not ignore it, it is not propaganda, it is happening and has been for years. I am very distressed to see the children die and the adults as well but what do we have to do to make them realise that they MUST stay in their own countries and fight.

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