On Monday 5 May, the Shadow Immigration Minister, Richard Marles MP and the Member for Newcastle, Sharon Claydon visited Penola House to discuss settlement of Afghan translators and their families within the region.
Meeting with Penola House representatives, Mr Marles said the issue of refugee settlement is one which all Australians should take note of:
“I worry about how the debate has been conducted over the years. I think it’s had a really negative impact.” Mr Marles said.
“Asylum seekers are not criminals. (As a nation), we ought to do them no harm.”
Sister Diana Santleben from Penola House also introduced Mr Marles and Ms Claydon to a group of gentlemen who have recently been settled in Newcastle following their work for the Allied Forces in Afghanistan.
Sister Diana spoke of the everyday difficulties facing those who are newly settled, being accredited in English, learning to drive and gaining employment.
“I admit it’s complicated but we need to ensure we aren’t part of the problem, and rather become part of the solution.” Sister Diana said.
“We have to start a new social contract. If you were in their shoes, what would you do?”.
All participants in the gathering at Penola House appreciated the opportunity to communicate their concerns.