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Paid social work 'should help asylum seekers integrate'

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Paid social work 'should help asylum seekers integrate'
Refugees arriving on boats in the Mediterranean. UNHCR/Archilleas Zavallis
11:49 CEST+02:00
Refugee experts from Austria's nine states are meeting in Graz today, to discuss how to provide asylum seekers with employment and opportunities for integration through community work.

At present, asylum seekers are allowed to do some charitable relief work - for example working in parks and other green spaces, as well as maintaining sports facilities and cleaning work.

Styrian state councillor Doris Kampus (SPÖ) says she wants these non-profit activities to be extended to social services. She thinks asylum seekers could be gainfully employed helping out in care homes or taking elderly people for walks - but stresses that of course they “would never replace the professionals, that's not our aim. This is really an integration policy. They want to help, they want to learn our language, and see how the system works… they want to give something back to Austrian society, and that's a good thing.”

Asylum seekers will receive a maximum of €110 per month for such charitable work, which Kampus says would work out as around four or five euros an hour.

The refugee experts will also be discussing how refugees are processed when they first arrive in Austria, and have recommended that each refugee should have a detailed data card that provides information on their health, any trauma they have suffered and anything unusual in their history. This way, the experts say future problems can be easily avoided.

Austria saw a record 90,000 people apply for asylum last year, one of the highest levels per capita in Europe.



 

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