SCoA Submission to the Senate Select Committee on COVID-19
Based on all the feedback we have received from members, including through our recent consultations, SCoA has made a submission to the Senate Select Committee on COVID-19. Read the full submission below.
The Impact of Coronavirus on Workforce Retention and Business Continuity for Settlement Services – Consultation Report
In March and April 2020, the Settlement Council of Australia (SCoA) carried out a series of consultations with its members in order to gauge the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on settlement agencies and the communities they support, following the unprecedented measures taken by Federal and State governments in Australia to minimise the spread and subsequent impact of Coronavirus. This is the report of the second set of consultations held in April, which focused on workforce retention and business continuity for settlement agencies. An online survey was developed for SCoA members, and was open for approximately two weeks. 37 responses were received from SCoA member organisations in every state and territory in Australia. A national teleconference was also held on Thursday 23rd April, with 41 people registering for the call. The aim of the teleconference was to enable us to “dig deeper” on issues raised in the survey. This report provides a summary of the feedback received through these consultations with our members. View the report below.
The Impact of Coronavirus on Settlement Services: Consultation Report
In March 2020, the Settlement Council of Australia (SCoA) carried out a consultation with its members in order to gauge the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) on settlement agencies and the communities they support. This was in response to the unprecedented measures taken by the Federal and State governments in Australia to minimise the spread and subsequent impact of the Coronavirus This report outlines key findings and recommendations.
Maximising AMEP and English Language Learning Consultation Report
In January 2020, SCoA consulted with our members regarding the Australian Migrant English Program (AMEP) and English language learning for newly arrived refugees and migrants. The report from the consultations has recently been presented to the Department of Home Affairs. The consultations consisted of four face to face roundtable discussions and a national teleconference. The purpose of the consultations was to identify practical and structural barriers that newly arrived people face in accessing English language programs, as well as ways to improve and support English language acquisition. There was a particular focus on the needs of specific groups including women; older people; people with disabilities etc. This follows recent reviews on behalf of the Commonwealth Government during 2019, including the Evaluation of the Adult Migrant English Program New Business Model conducted by Social Compass for the Department of Home Affairs, and the Independent Review into Integration, Employment and Settlement Outcomes for Refugees and Humanitarian Migrants to Australia, chaired by Professor Peter Shergold AC. The report provides a summary of the feedback received through SCoA’s consultations with its members.
SCoA Annual Report 2018-2019
SCoA's 2018-2019 Annual Report was launched at our Annual General Meeting on 25 November, 2019.
Community English Language Programs: Strengths and Challenges
This report outlines current community English language programs for adult migrants and refugees in Australia. The report analyses the views of migrant and refugee program participants of what works and what does not work. It also explores the experiences of community providers who deliver English classes to migrants and refugees daily, and often voluntary. Drawing on consultations and surveys with both providers and participants, the report offers guidance to policy makers, government and other stakeholders on how to develop successful English programs where clients’ diverse needs, backgrounds and skills are in focus. The report identifies good practice examples for consideration in future planning and discusses how community programs can overlap with or complement the Australian Government’s own funded program—the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP). It also provides recommendations for improving the capacity of community driven English programs. SCoA was pleased to be able to collaborate with FECCA to produce this report.
SCoA Submission to Joint Standing Committee on Migration: Inquiry into migration in regional Australia
Regional settlement has considerable benefits, with the right supports and structures in place. This submission outlines the necessary factors leading to successful regional settlement. Read the full submission below:
SCoA Submission Submission to the Community Affairs Reference Committee: Inquiry into the Adequacy of Newstart and related payments and alternative mechanisms to determine the level of income support payments in Australia
This submission considers the effect of the current rate of Newstart, Special Benefit and related payments on people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, particularly humanitarian entrants and other recently arrived migrants. Read the full submission below:
The Effects of Discrimination of Refugee and Migrant Housing Needs
Housing is one of the nine foundations identified in the National Settlement Services Outcomes Standards (NSSOS). This standard is achieved when appropriate, affordable and long term housing is available and close to both social and community supports and to available employment. The standard recognises that achieving this standard is needed to meet the other NSSOS. And it recognises that newly arrived communities are at high risk of homelessness and exploitation in the rental market. Refugees and migrants often struggle to find appropriate housing. This can be because there are long waiting lists for public and social housing while, at the same time, there is a shortage of affordable and appropriate private housing stock. Even when housing is available, new migrants can face discrimination that is based on cultural racism and a lack of understanding of the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) families. This bias can add to other forms of discrimination, for example, where migrants have large families, have low incomes and/or rely on Centrelink benefits. Housing is essential if people from refugee and migrant backgrounds are to settle successfully. This paper, produced by SCoA, points to research that explores the barriers to accessing housing and their effects on refugees and migrants and shows that Australia is not meeting the standard. The paper indicates that Australia, as a host country, is not meeting its obligation to make sure that appropriate and affordable housing is available to new refugees and other migrants.
SCoA Achievements 2018-2019
SCoA's 2018-2019 Achievements Record is now available. The document catalogues SCoA's work over 2018-2019, including our key activities representing and promoting the work of the sector and supporting our members across the country. Please download the attached document for a snapshot of our work promoting the best possible settlement outcomes for migrants in Australia.
SCoA Submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs: Inquiry into the Migration Amendment (Strengthening the Character Test) Bill 2019
In this submission, SCoA outlines concerns with the introduction of the category of 'designated offences' to the Character Test and the departmental discretion around cancelling a visa on the basis of character. Passage of the Bill means long term residents who are not given prison sentences could be deported, including those whose only family ties are in Australia, young people convicted of minor offences, such as shoplifting, and people with caring responsibilities in Australia. It could also create a sense of alienation by refugees and other migrants who feel insecure and that they are treated differently from other Australians, threatening social cohesion. Read the full submission below.
Recognising Overseas Skills and Qualifications
Australia is a nation of highly skilled immigrants. Unlike the majority of OECD countries where the migrant intake tends to be less qualified than the native population, the opposite is true in Australia, where 65 per cent of recent migrants possess a non-school qualification prior to arrival. Indeed, the success of Australia’s migration program is acclaimed internationally, as 91% of migrants in the labour force are employed – a trend which is virtually the same as the nativeborn population and significantly higher than the OECD average. Yet, for too long, it has been observed that many of these migrants work in jobs below their human capital capacity, as they are forced to work in low-skilled and low-paid roles with limited opportunities to progress. Various studies, including those conducted by the IOM and the OECD, report that migrant overqualification is ‘common’ in Australia, situating the rate of overqualification at over 30% of the migrant population. That is to say, that over 30% of highly skilled migrants in Australia are employed in positions below their formal qualification level, and are 42% more likely to be overqualified than their native-born counterparts. To read more, download the PDF. An employment tip sheet is also available to download below.
My Health Record
In 2019, SCoA worked with the Australian Digital Health Agency to ensure Australia’s newest residents are aware of their My Health Record and what it means for them and their families. This follows our previous work with the Agency in the lead up to the opt-out period to ensure new arrivals and settlement service providers understood their rights with respect to opting out. By providing the below information, SCoA does not endorse My Health Record, nor make any recommendation with respect to opting out. If members or their clients require more detail about whether to opt out of My Health Record, we recommend they visit the My Health Record website or call the Help line on 1800 723 471, or contact their local Primary Health Network.
Volunteering and Settlement in Australia
Volunteering Australia and SCoA have released a report on their National Survey on Volunteering and Settlement in Australia. The report sets out the key findings and makes recommendations to support volunteering in the settlement sector. Volunteers are the lifeblood of Australian communities. More than 5.8 million Australians are volunteers – that is 31 per cent of the population. It’s more than double for refugees and migrants, with our research indicating that 65 per cent supported their communities through their volunteering work within the first 18 months of their arrival to Australia. Volunteering brings social inclusion, community resilience, participation and social cohesion to communities. It also helps to ward off isolation and loneliness. Many volunteers in the settlement sector are from a migrant or refugee background. They have benefited from the volunteer work of others in their communities and use their lived experiences to help other new arrivals. Key insights from the report:
- 65 per cent of new arrivals engaged in volunteering within the first 18 months of their arrival to Australia.
- People mainly volunteer as a way to contribute to society, make friends, improve their English, and/or gain local work experience.
- There are personal and professional benefits from volunteering.
- Organisations gained many benefits from their volunteers.
- More than two-thirds of organisations surveyed reported that they and their volunteers need more formal support, and would benefit from funding for training programs, supporting material, and from forming new partnerships and sharing resources.
SCoA’s 2019 Federal Election Platform
SCoA Policy Focus – Access to Justice
As one of the nine key priority areas in the National Settlement Services Outcomes Standards (NSSOS), SCoA views Justice as a vital part of settlement. For this reason, we were pleased to host research intern Neha Prakash, who conducted research into access to justice for newly arrived people from CALD backgrounds. Her research highlighted key issues in access to justice, including barriers to justice, and case studies that demonstrate best-practice principles under the NSSOS. We welcome input from our members and other interested parties, and invite you to contact our National Office on 02 6282 8515 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any thoughts or insights. Read the initial report here.
Barriers and Exclusions: The support needs of newly arrived refugees with a disability – February 2019
The Settlement Council of Australia (SCOA); Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA); the National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA); and the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) released a new report outlining the significant obstacles faced by refugees with disabilities who are living in Australia in February 2019. The report, entitled Barriers and Exclusions: the support needs of newly arrived refugees with a disability, is based on consultations with affected individuals and service providers. It reveals that despite policy improvements which have enabled more refugees with disabilities to settle in Australia, many people still face barriers to resettlement upon arrival. The report identifies a number of hurdles for newly arrived refugees with disabilities including: access to timely assessment and support; provision of essential equipment and aides; lack of accessible and appropriate housing; inadequate support within the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS); lack of culturally appropriate disability services; and lack of translating and interpreting services within disability services and the NDIS.