COUNCIL staff who help migrants settle into Orange are likely to be less able to respond to their needs after a cut in federal funding.
According to a Bathurst City Council report considered on Wednesday night, Bathurst’s migrant support service would no longer receive funding, resulting in the loss of one employee.
Funding has continued for Orange City Council’s migrant support worker, but reduced from $97,000 to $80,000, and the geographical catchment would nearly double to include Bathurst.
The report said the service would be able to provide minimal coverage.
“It is acknowledged that the overall numbers of individual services throughout the Central West are small particularly in comparison to metropolitan areas, however, individuals in regional areas will be further disproportionately impacted by the lack of adequate services,” the report said.
“The Bathurst and Orange migrant support services have been the only services in the region which support migrants and refugees in the Central West.
“Orange City Council have indicated that they are aware of the impact that the reduced funding and increased area will have on Bathurst, Central Tablelands and Lachlan communities as well as the areas that they have previously serviced.”
The wider the area, the less likely you are going to connect face-to-face and there’s a travel component.Councillor Stephen Nugent
Bathurst council was due to vote on whether to write to member for Calare Andrew Gee about the reduction, seeking advice on alternate funding sources.
Orange council services policy committee chair Stephen Nugent said the level of funding had already been nominal and it could affect the number of migrants who chose to stay in Orange.
“The wider the area, the less likely you are going to connect face-to-face and there’s a travel component,” he said.
“If they feel they don’t fit in and they don’t connect, they’ll move back to Sydney.”
Cr Nugent said migrants often needed support in finding work, integrating and even counselling if they came from a war-torn country, with few were lucky enough to have immediate neighbours from their culture.
Mr Gee told the Central Western Daily in a statement the decision was “frustratingly” taken by bureaucrats, amid falling numbers.
“But [it] was made with little appreciation for the practical difficulties in chopping and changing providers, the subsequent drop in the level of local service or the distances that people have to travel to get support in the country,” it read.
Mr Gee said at the time Orange City Council negotiated the contract with the department, he was not notified the expanded area was of concern.
“I would have been happy to help then, and I’m doing all I can to get this sorted out now,” he said.
“In my discussions this week with Orange City Council, they have made it very clear that if I can get the government to keep a migrant support worker at Bathurst, Orange’s area will shrink to a size that it can handle and that they would be happy with.”
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