Toowoomba set to take on hundreds of Syrian refugees

TOOWOOMBA is one of four destinations for more than 3500 Queensland-bound Syrian refugees, according to the Federal Government.

The Garden City, along with Brisbane, Logan and Gold Coast, will take in hundreds more refugees as part of Australia's commitment to re-settle more than 12,000 people displaced from the crises in Syria and Iraq.

A spokesman for the Department of Social Services said Toowoomba was chosen due to its access to services and opportunities for employment.

"Toowoomba is a long-standing settlement location for humanitarian entrants," he said.


>> Toowoomba reacts to Syrian refugee settlement plan

"DSS takes into account a range of factors when deciding where to settle humanitarian entrants including availability of settlement services, family or community links, availability of mainstream services such as health and education, opportunities for employment, sustainable and affordable housing.

"People from Syria and Iraq are being settled in existing humanitarian settlement locations where there are established services and other supports in place to help new arrivals."

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Refugees will be placed into housing through the Department's Humanitarian Settlement Services program, according to the spokesman.

"HSS services providers employ a range of accommodation models and assist clients to secure longer term accommodation, primarily through private rental markets," he said.

"Assisting clients to source suitable accommodation and providing information on tenancy rights and responsibilities is a key component of the HSS program."

Mayor Paul Antonio, who has been a supporter of a refugee integration, said he would be happy to see displaced people settle in Toowoomba, provided the numbers did not exceed what services could provide.

"It's better for everybody, including the refugees, if we just bring the number in that we can successfully integrate," he said.

"We indicated we were prepared in 2013 as a city (to take on refugees).

"We have some really amazing groups in Toowoomba who are doing some great work here. I think we don't want to stretch them too far (by bringing large numbers into town).

"I personally am not aware of numbers, but we have put our hand up to be part of the national effort, by calling ourselves refugee-welcome."

Small numbers of refugees from Syria and Jordan have already settled in Toowoomba, according to Multicultural Development Association regional manager Kelly Buckingham.

"We had some that arrived in October, some that arrived yesterday and a couple that are on their way up the range right now," she said at the MDA's end-of-year lunch last week.

"This is a tradition of its own for Toowoomba; to welcome new families like they do and they do it so well."