Labor has promised Catholic educators in NSW additional funds to teach English to hundreds of refugee children from Syria and Iraq – after the State Liberal Government broke its promise to support them.

NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley says despite former Premier Mike Baird’s clear commitment the current Premier Gladys Berejiklian has refused a request from the Catholic Education Commission to provide funding to support refugee children enrolled in their schools with intensive English programs.

NSW is experiencing a substantial influx of refugees from war in both Syria and Iraq – and school principals were given an explicit commitment about additional funding to help them settle.

Over 400 children from Iraq and Syria have been taken in by Catholic schools. 

Schools such as Mary MacKillop College, Wakeley, Our Lady of the Rosary Primary School, Fairfield and Patrician Brothers College, Fairfield are leading the way in taking Iraqi and Syrian refugees into their schools.

Intensive English teaching is provided to the students, often before they transition into the mainstream school curriculum.

Mr. Foley made the announcement at a dinner with the Chaldean community on Saturday night in Edensor Park, in the presence of the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Australia Mar Emil Nona.

Archbishop Nona was previously the Archbishop of Mosul in northern Iraq, and was forced to flee in 2014 when ISIS invaded the city.

This is a one-off spending commitment of $2.5 million in additional funding to assist refugee students settle into school.

Quotes attributable to NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley MP

‘A Labor government I lead in 2019 will top up the funds this Liberal government has refused to the non-government schools sector to help our newest and poorest arrivals learn English.‘

‘The sooner these children learn English the sooner they and their families assimilate. They’ve suffered enough.’

‘Some of these students had family members killed before their eyes.’

‘This top up funding has been provided to public schools. The principle of needs based funding requires that additional funds also be provided to Catholic and Independent schools who are educating Iraqi and Syrian refugees.”