Bishop Irinej encourages Australian Government to support the Exchange HPBS with Serbia

Bishop Irinej encourages Australian Government to support the Exchange Health and Pension Benefits Scheme with the Republic of Serbia 

On 2 October 2009, writing on behalf of the faithful of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Australia, His Grace Bishop Irinej encouraged Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Foreign Minister Stephen Smith to support the implementation of the Social Agreement between the Commonwealth of Australia and the Republic of Serbia, as well as the Health Agreement between the two countries. 

His Grace noted "the faithful of our Church believe that the introduction of such Agreements would be equally beneficial for Serbian guest workers employed in Australia, as well as Australian citizens (of Serbian and other descent) who are travelling to and seeking employment in Serbia". 

The introduction of such Agreements would encourage Serbian skilled trade workers in Australia by assuring medical health coverage and entitlement for a partial pension while employed in Australia, thus providing economic benefits for both countries. It would also enable specialised skilled workers from Australia to work in Serbia, where they could share and apply skills attained in Australia, while building stronger ties between the two countries. 

Bishop Irinej questioned why Australia and Serbia did not already have such particular agreements in place, especially mindful of the fact that Australia has already entered into the same with other countries of the former Yugoslavia, namely Croatia, Slovenia and F.Y.R. Macedonia, which have, as Serbia, sizable émigré communities in Australia. 

His Grace concluded by noting that he brought this critical issue before the Australian Government on behalf of ". . . loyal Australian citizens of Serbian heritage, located in every state and we greatly pride ourselves on the fact that Australia and Serbia have been, and we pray always will remain, traditional allies."