Former head of the Australian public service Peter Shergold will coordinate the resettlement of refugees from Syria and Iraq in New South Wales, Premier Mike Baird announced on Monday.
Shergold, who was the secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet from 2003 to 2008, will ensure cooperation between governments, government agencies and non-government organisations to resettle refugees, following news last week that Australia would accept an additional 12,000 refugees.
Shergold said he was honoured to be given the full and strong support of the premier for such a role.
“It is vital that all the agencies of the state government work together in a coordinated way to wrap support services around the refugee families as they arrive,” he said.
“We need not only to provide immediate help — such as community services, health programs, trauma counselling and housing — but also ensure that the new arrivals gain access to English language training, education and employment services.”
He said he will work to facilitate effective coordination between different levels of government.
“It is crucial that we also build strong collaborative partnerships between the NSW public sector and the not for profit community organisations that now play such an important part in helping to deliver government services,” he said.
“I will also be asking private sector businesses to help the government provide employment and training opportunities for the refugees. Many — given a chance — will have skills, experience, entrepreneurial energy and the determination to succeed.”
The premier welcomed Shergold’s involvement. “I am delighted that Peter Shergold has agreed to become coordinator of the housing, health, education and welfare needs of these thousands of additional arrivals from Syria and Iraq,” Baird said.
“His experience across government, the NGO and private sectors makes him uniquely qualified to take on this role.”