New homes for refugees

TWO Newcastle refugee families will be moved after government investigators found their existing accommodation was unsuitable.

It follows a week of investigations by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship into claims that some refugee families were being housed in poorly maintained and unsuitable accommodation.

Navitas, whose subsidiary Australian College of Languages has a government contract to resettle the refugees, is conducting a separate investigation.

Navitas head of government programs Michael Cox said the government investigators contacted him yesterday to request the families be moved. ‘‘The department’s staff met with the families on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday,’’ he said.

‘‘As a result of that they have asked us [Navitas] to look at alternative accommodation to meet the needs of those families.’’

Mr Cox declined to comment about which families would be moved.

‘‘There are privacy issues and we also want to minimise the disruption and intrusion for the families,’’ he said.

The investigations will continue next week.

‘‘Providing the families agree, we plan to start meeting with them starting today,’’ Mr Cox said yesterday.

A department spokeswoman said it would not be commenting until the investigation had concluded at the end of the month.

Refugee advocates rallied outside two homes in Shortland on Monday in support of improved accommodation and support services for refugees in Newcastle.

They also demand that rent for the two properties in question be significantly reduced.

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