Western Sydney 'betrayed' by repatriation

A Sydney community feels "betrayed" by the federal government's decision to repatriate Australian families with links to Islamic State.

Four Australian women, who have been in the al-Roj camp in Syria since the fall of the terrorist group, and 13 children arrived in the NSW capital last month following a secret operation.

Independent MP Dai Le, elected in May to represent the diverse, multi-faith electorate of Fowler in the city's west, said many of her constituents had fled persecution by IS in their homelands.

"They have suffered trauma as a result of ISIS' brutal regime and were settled in Australia with the hopes of peace and security," she told AAP.

"Our community feels betrayed that this repatriation occurred without consultation or consideration as to how it would impact on their wellbeing."

Ms Le said her community felt left in the dark about the decision and wanted more transparency from the government.

"We understand that this is a complex issue, although what we continue to seek is cooperation, communication and collaboration from the government," she said.

Ms Le has supported a letter from community leaders to Home Affairs Minister Clare O'Neil asking for a forum to discuss the repatriation program.

A spokesperson for the minister said she had received the letter and is considering the request.

Ms O'Neil told ABC TV the government had taken repatriation action matters on the advice of national security agencies.

"National security matters are handled sensitively, delicately, methodically, calmly and that is how we've conducted this exercise," she said on Friday.

The risk to Australia from not acting was greater than the repatriation operation, the minister said.

"We've got a relatively large group of Australian children who would otherwise be growing up in a camp where a key focus and influence on their life is violent ideology, and I don't think that's good for the country," she said.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton is concerned the government is ignoring the advice from national security agencies.

He said there must have been a "180-degree flip" on the advice the Liberals had received while in government.

"The job of the government is to make sure that Australians are safe and not introduce into the system an element of risk," he told Nine's Today program on Friday.

"They've done exactly that."

But Education Minister Jason Clare said the Liberals repatriated families while they were in government, a decision overseen by Mr Dutton while he was home affairs minister.

"I live in Western Sydney. I want our community to be safe," Mr Clare told Seven's Sunrise on Friday.

"I trust our national security agencies and we do this on their advice.

"For the (Liberal-National) coalition to now say that they are against it makes them hypocrites. They did exactly the same thing."

But deputy opposition leader Sussan Ley said Mr Clare was being misleading, noting the coalition government only brought eight orphaned children home on a humanitarian basis, not women.

She said the difference was "the women that are now coming back deliberately left Australia to join a terrorist state ... that is different to repatriating on a humanitarian level."

Further repatriations did not occur under the coalition following advice from security agencies.

Ms Ley said western Sydney communities had raised concerns about the lack of consultation before the resettlement.

"There has been so little communication with the communities into which they are now moving. It is just not good enough," she said.

"These are terrorist regimes (that) have threatened Australia's way of life. We have to be extremely cautious."

Ms Ley said the government was withholding national security advice from responsible agencies.