Prime Minister Tony Abbott will meet ethnic community leaders, religious groups and those involved in resettling refugees to outline the government’s plans and seek their assistance in preparing for the 12,000 people coming from Syria.
Mr Abbott will host the round table in Canberra on Friday.
“I will be talking about exactly what we need to do to ensure that people coming to Australia from the conflict zone can swiftly and effectively integrate into our country,” he said.
The first of the new intake of refugees are due to be resettled by Christmas after health, security and other checks.
The government’s decision to take an additional 12,000 women, children and families, mostly from United Nations camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, has generally been well received.
But a diverse group of refugee advocates, and Christian and Muslim representatives, have condemned suggestions Australia would favour members of persecuted minority groups, especially Christians.
Social Services Minister Scott Morrison said these were people who would never be able to return to Syria.
“That is why we are focusing our intake of that 12,000 on persecuted minorities which are predominantly Middle Eastern Christians,” he said.
Representatives of the Refugee Action Coalition, the NSW Council of Civil Liberties and the Lebanese Muslim Association issued a joint statement calling on the government “to be genuine with a humanitarian intention”.
“In light of recent media reports regarding the discriminatory nature of the refugee intake, we are obliged to condemn in the strongest of terms the suggestion that priority should be given to people of one faith over another,” their statement said.
Father Bob Bower of the Gosford Anglican Church said a message must be sent to Canberra that “this is not the foundation on which we want to receive these people”.
States have welcomed the impending new arrivals.
West Australian Premier Colin Barnett said about 1000 carefully-vetted Syrian refugees could be initially housed in camp-style accommodation in his state.
He said he expected the federal government would bear most of the cost but the state government would not shy away from contributing.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews said while he would leave it to the experts to determine where and how to house the refugees, Victoria could be counted on to take thousands.
Labor has called on the government to clarify over what period it will take in the refugees.
Opposition immigration spokesman Richard Marles said Labor wanted to know whether all refugees would be resettled before the end of June 2016.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the refugees would have the same rights as Australian citizens after the government opted for permanent residency over the Kosovo temporary “safe haven” solution that was used in 1999.