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Anti-refugee rally planned for Melb suburb

AAP logoAAP 3/11/2016 Luke Costin

A quiet Melbourne suburb could become a flashpoint for immigration politics with scores of self-styled patriots due to rally again the proposed housing of Syrian refugees.

The plan to move refugees into a refurbished aged-care facility in Eltham for a two-year period has divided the local community.

The new residents are part of a one-off humanitarian intake of 12,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees announced by the Abbott government last September.

Sydney man Nick Folkes is behind the "Battle for Eltham Rally" planned for Saturday.

He came to national prominence in 2014 when he appeared on SBS' Living With The Enemy.

He's previously campaigned for the sterilisation of third-world refugees.

"The decision to house the refo invaders in an aged-care facility is a slap in the face of locals who want to not only protect their elderly in the nursing home but also protect their families from being exposed to guaranteed social and cultural friction, crime and possible terrorism," Mr Folkes wrote online.

Police say they will have a "strong presence" at the event and will not tolerate any anti-social behaviour or violence.

"Urging violence and hatred within our community is not a form of free speech and is illegal," a police spokeswoman told AAP on Friday.

Locals are advised to avoid the Eltham city centre from 10am on Saturday.

St Vincent's Health Australia, which operates the aged-care facility, and CatholicCare are planning to offer short- and medium-term rentals to Syrian refugee families.

CatholicCare says the scheme will improve the refugees' opportunity to build up rental history to secure private rental accommodation.

After two years the 60 stand-alone units - which are separate from the residential aged care and independent living facilities on the seven-hectare site - will be used as affordable housing for seniors.

Last month, Planning Minister Richard Wynne fast-tracked an amendment to the local planning scheme as the units are on a floodway zone.

ELTHAM:

* northeastern suburb in Melbourne's green wedge zone

* population - 22,800 - with about 90 per cent living in family households

* median weekly rent - $325

* median age - 39

* country of birth - Australia 81 per cent, England 5 per cent, NZ 1.1 per cent

Source: 2011 Census.

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