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New sponsorship program launching in 2013

New sponsorship program launching in 2013

Immigration minister Chris Bowen has announced that community groups across the country will soon be able to sponsor people in humanitarian need.

Such a move would see those who are suffering in other countries find their way to the safety of Australia where new lives can be formed.

The new pilot private sponsorship program would fall under the Australian 2012-13 humanitarian program umbrella and will begin early in 2013.

Mr Bowen commented: "There has been considerable community and sector support for a private sponsorship scheme as a way of reuniting families and providing another safe pathway for refugees to start a new life in Australia."

"The private sponsorship pilot will be part of that increased program and will build on community goodwill by enabling community organisations and individuals to play a role in resettling refugees. This scheme also provides another avenue for humanitarian entrants with existing community ties to come to Australia, while minimising the cost to taxpayers."

The immigration minister said that this will be in line with what was recommended by the Houston panel regarding asylum seekers whereby intake increased by 45 per cent to 20,000.

This will be a trial run and Mr Bowen added, that should it be a success, there are plans to turn it into a proper system in the years to come.

The government went through a vast consultation process, with stakeholders and the general public also giving their opinion.

Up to 500 people could benefit from this new immigration visa system, which is 2.5 per cent of the overall intake.

This project will be up and running by early 2013, providing the governor general gives the go ahead on some regulatory changes.

Sponsors would be subjected to a two stage charge when applying for a visa, estimated to be between $20,000 and $30,000 and that would vary depending on the makeup of the family, medical issues and flight costs. A 12 month ongoing humanitarian support system would also have to be provided.

Since World War II, Australia has settled three quarters of a million refugees and people in need on humanitarian grounds. This nation does so, on a bigger per capita basis than any other country in the world.

The minister concluded by saying that he is proud to announce that Australia has made the biggest increase to its refugee intake in thirty years in addition to this innovative sponsorship program.

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