Syrian refugees huddle around a fire to keep warm.
Syrian refugees huddle around a fire to keep warm.

Toowoomba reacts to Syrian refugee settlement plan

A REPORT that Toowoomba is one of four cities in Queensland that will resettle 3500 Syrian refugees has sparked a fire-storm of debate in the Garden City.

Toowoomba, Brisbane, Logan and the Gold Coast will be home to hundreds more refugees as part of Australia's commitment to re-settle more than 12,000 people displaced from the crises in Syria and Iraq.

A brutal civil war has waged in Syria since fighting began there in 2012 and has since devolved into a battle of attrition between rebel groups and the Syrian government.

A spokesman for the Department of Social Services said Toowoomba was chosen due to its access to services and opportunities for employment.

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"Toowoomba is a long-standing settlement location for humanitarian entrants," he said.

The plan has been supported by Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio.

Residents in the city have been less enthusiastic about the plan.

An online poll conducted by The Chronicle with the question "Should Toowoomba accept more refugees?" was answered by more than 1300 people.

The results showed 80% are against the city resettling more refugees, with just 20% in support.

Opposition to the plan was also widespread on social media, although ardent supporters also let their voices be heard.

 

Concerns were raised about the ability of Toowoomba to handle more refugees.

Kyles Leggatt said: "What and give them public housing and assistance before it should be given to struggling Australians first, unacceptable."

Should Toowoomba accept more refugees?

This poll ended on 30 December 2016.

Current Results

Yes

17%

No

82%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Lauren Picker said: "How can this city possibly cope with hundreds of refugees?

"The hospital is always at capacity, the traffic is a nightmare, car parking is a joke and unemployment is 8% just for Toowoomba.

"This will mean more Australians will be disadvantaged by an ineffective governance, shame shame shame."  

Statistics show the unemployment rate in Toowoomba is close to 4%.

Others pleaded for Toowoomba to take pity on the plight of the refugees.

Lucy Grace called the plan "fantastic".

"There is plenty of space in the community for these people.

"Hopefully we can get some more doctors and other tertiary educated people into the city, like is needed."

Indy Davies posted a photo of the Syrian city of Aleppo, the subject of bombing campaigns from Russia, and an offensive from the Syrian government.

He stated roughly 400,000 people had died from Russian forces and the Syrian government.

"The Syrian refugees are not terrorists, they are running from terror and Toowoomba is saving every life they take in."

Rachel Conway said the refugees would become great assets to the city and community.

"I hope that they're welcomed because they've already been through more than most of us ever will."



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