A Labor-led government in 2019 will commit $2.5 million in additional funding to assist refugee students settle into Catholic schools.
At a time when Fairfield is taking the brunt of humanitarian arrivals from war-torn Syria and Iraq, the funding will be a timely boost Mary MacKillop College, Wakeley, Our Lady of the Rosary Primary School, Fairfield and Patrician Brothers College, Fairfield who are teaching English to hundreds of refugees in their schools.
NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley announced the funding pledge at a dinner with the Chaldean community on Saturday night in Edensor Park.
“The sooner these children learn English the sooner they and their families assimilate. They’ve suffered enough,” Mr Foley said.
“Some of these students had family members killed before their eyes.
“This top up funding has been provided to public schools. The principle of needs based funding requires that additional funds also be provided to Catholic and Independent schools who are educating Iraqi and Syrian refugees.”
Fairfield MP Guy Zangari said the community will “benefit tremendously” from the funding to support Intensive English programs at schools
“Local Catholic schools are already leading the way with the intake of Iraqi and Syrian refugees into their schools. These schools are helping the newly arrived refugees through specialised Intensive English programs,” he said.
“Fairfield will become home to thousands of refugees whose children will need the fundamentals including Intensive English Classes.”
Earlier this year Mary MacKillop Catholic College principal Narelle Archer said the school wouldn’t be able to take any more Iragi and Syrian refugee students if they didn’t receive promised funding from the state government.
Ms Archer said the school originally wanted to take six students and now have 26 in their three Catholic Intensive English Centre classes.
“We won’t be able to afford to set them up. The students need uniforms and technology – they don’t have anything,” she said of losing the state government funding from the refugee resettlement package.
“The students act as mentors to integrate them into the school community but without the funding we won’t be able to continue.
“A lot of the parents from Irag and Syria want their girls to go to a Catholic school but we might have to start saying no which will put pressure on the public schools.”