CANBERRA -- Social Services Minister Christian Porter has described the first family of Syrian refugees arriving in Perth today as being on “a fairly long journey”, including being “subjected to” Australia’s rigorous immigration checks.
The family of five, including three children, has been fast tracked as part of an additional 12,000 humanitarian refugee places due to the mother being seven months pregnant.
Originally from the largely destroyed city of Homs, Syria, the Minister said the family has been "through quite a lot".
"My understanding is they were a fairly early family to be displaced," Porter told the ABC.
“They have spent time in and out of refugee camps. They have gone through quite a lot and it has been quite a long journey.”
The timing of the family’s arrive coincides with the fallout of the Paris terror attacks and concern in Europe about terrorists posing as Syrian refugees fleeing the conflict.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has described the process as Australian authorities “hand-picking” suitable refugees, while Treasurer, and former Immigration and Social Services Minister, Scott Morrison has told Macquarie radio Tuesday the focus remains on persecuted minorities.
“That obviously includes a large Christian component. In fact, the majority I would expect,” he said. “And that is because it is those communities who are at most long term risk in the Middle East.”
The refugees will be offered permanent settlement in Australia.
“I think they will get the warmest of welcomes and I think they will get the best settlement services in the world,” Morrison said.
“They will be thoroughly screened and I think they will make very good Australians.”
The Social Services Minister said they had gone through an “absolutely rigorous” and lengthy offshore screening process involving stringent health checks, character assessments and vetting by security and intelligence agencies.
“They have been subjected to, quite properly, the very orderly, almost ponderous processes that we go through, Australia, in terms of assessing anyone who comes here on a refugee visa,” Porter said.
“I can say that the process has not, in any sense, been rushed in any way.”
The family will be met by staff from the Metropolitan Migrant Resource Centre WA and will be given a basic “welcome” pack of food, clothes and cleaning items before being taken to its new accommodation.
Several other families from persecuted Middle Eastern minorities are due in Australia before the end of the year as part on an additional 12,000 refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria and Iraq.