Katanning puts out welcome mat for Syrians

Talitha Wolfe, GREAT SOUTHERN HERALDGreat Southern Herald

Katanning's shire president says the town would welcome some of Australia's intake of Syrian refugees fleeing Islamic State militants in the Middle East, provided there was sufficient Government support.

The Federal Government announced last Wednesday Australia would accept 12,000 refugees on top of its 13,750 humanitarian quota.

Shire president Alan McFarland said Katanning would be willing to accept refugees provided there was adequate care and funding allocated.

"It is a qualified 'yes' to taking the refugees because there is no way we can actual handle them without some qualification," he said.

"We need an education system … we need doctors and nurses and health staff that are trained appropriately for whatever issues that are going to come through.

"We are going to need counselling staff that (can) sort out torture and trauma."

Premier Colin Barnett said last week WA could accept 1000 refugees, and Wagin MLA Terry Waldron said the influx of refugees could contribute well to both Katanning and regional WA.

"Katanning has such a proud history of diversity, it is probably the most cosmopolitan town in country WA and they have done it well over a number of years," Mr Waldron said.

"I also think there are probably other opportunities, particularly with families and mums and kids that other towns in our region would look favourably at receiving one or two families in their town."

Great Southern Migrant Services' managing agency Rainbow Coast Neighbourhood Centre co-manager Sarah Hilder said though resources were currently stretched the agency would assist where possible. "We obviously would be more than happy to help any humanitarian refugee that comes through out door," she said.

"But it definitely takes a whole community to make a difference to these people."

Cr McFarland said though the Shire would be willing to accept any people in need he would prefer families.

"My preference would be for families to come through rather than just individuals; I think families would stay here in town and they would actually build our community better," he said.

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