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SCoA Publications

SCoA Submission on Newly Arrived Residents Waiting Period: March 2018

The Federal Government has proposed to increase the Newly Arrived Residents Waiting Period (NARWP) for social services payments from two years to three (and, subsequently in the 2018 Budget, to four years).

In March 2018, SCoA made a submission to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee outlining our concerns about the proposed increase.

Our Submission can be accessed below.

SCoA Member Survey: May 2018

SCoA Members are invited to take part in our 2018 Online Survey covering a range of topics of importance to settlement in Australia in 2018. The survey will take just 10 minutes to complete and is open until Friday 8 June 2018. The survey is completely anonymous and is open to all staff members within SCoA member organisations. We therefore hope that members will circulate this widely and encourage staff and colleagues to complete the survey. Please click here to complete the survey today!

Peak Bodies Urge Increased Oversight of Migration Services: 1 May 2018

MEDIA RELEASE

1 May 2018

PEAK BODIES URGE INCREASED OVERSIGHT OF MIGRATION SERVICES

The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) and the Settlement Council of Australia (SCoA) have joined forces to call for increased Government funding for the oversight of migration services in Australia. In a joint submission to the Australian Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Migration, the two peak bodies acknowledge the critical role played by migration agents in often-complex applications for migration but stress the detrimental impact that unregistered migration agents have on vulnerable individuals applying to visas. The Chairperson of FECCA, Mary Patetsos, said: “FECCA believes that registered migration agents are currently regulated and supported by a strong system and that the majority adhere to sector regulations and guidelines. “However, the robust regulation of migrant agents, combined with a well-resourced effort to reduce the impact of unregistered practice, is in the best interests of CALD and migrant communities and those with family members keen to migrate.” The Settlement Council of Australia (SCoA) said that the role of migration agents should be acknowledged. The Chairperson of SCoA, Dewani Bakkum, said: “Our members witness firsthand the true value of the contribution made to multicultural Australia by those it welcomes as migrants, as well as the challenges those people face when attempting to settle in their new communities. “We believe that stringent regulation and accreditation of migration agents is crucial to ensure strong, safe and prosperous CALD and migrant communities. Confidence in the visa application process must be maintained.” FECCA and SCoA have recommended to the Committee that:
  • The current system of regulation of migration agents be maintained, including strong registration and stringent accreditation processes, as well as swiftly enforced penalties for exploitative and unethical migration agents;
  • The allocation of resources to further investigate the volumes and patterns of unregistered migration agents and education agents providing unlawful immigration services in Australia;
  • A comprehensive effort be made to inform clients of migration agents of their rights as consumers, and a streamlined process for migrants to raise concerns and have them arbitrated as efficiently as possible;
  • Consideration be given to additional resourcing to the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA), including the maintenance of a compensation fund for individuals who are left out of pocket as a result of unethical behaviour.
The joint submission by FECCA and SCoA can be found here. FECCA is the national peak body representing Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds. FECCA’s role is to advocate and promote issues on behalf of our constituency to government, business and the broader community. SCoA is the national peak body for settlement. SCoA represents settlement agencies across Australia providing direct services to people of refugee and migrant background. SCoA’s goal is to help ensure the best possible settlement outcomes for migrants and refugees settling in Australia.   CONTACTS FECCA: 0403 044 216 / emma@fecca.org.au SCoA: 0434 589 493 / ceo@scoa.org.au

SCoA Policy Focus – Education

As one of the nine key priority areas in the National Settlement Services Outcomes Standards, we view Education as an area of paramount importance in migrant's settlement journeys. For this reason, we were pleased to host an intern from the University of Sydney, Madi Cooper, in January and February 2018. Madi conducted crucial research into the current approach across Australia to education opportunities for migrant and refugee children through primary and secondary schooling. Her research built on initial research prepared for SCoA in 2017 by another intern, Divya Kaliyaperumal, who came to SCoA through the Australian National Internship Program. Divya and Madi's work highlights the importance of education as a settlement outcome and identifies the different approaches across the country to ensuring education needs are met. Building on this research we have identified areas in need of further exploration with a view to developing a comprehensive policy approach that will help to improve outcomes. We welcome input from our members and other interested parties, and invite you to contact our National Office on 02 6282 8515 or info@scoa.org.au if you have any thoughts or insights. Read the initial report here.

SCoA Submission to 2018-19 Migration Program: Feb 2018

Following a national consultation, SCoA has made a submission to the Department of Home Affairs consultation into planning for the 2018-19 Migration Program.

Highlighting the crucial importance of migration to Australia - both in economic and social terms - SCoA's submission calls on the government to adopt a settlement-focus towards immigration policies that will ensure the success of our Migration Program into the future.

SCoA has also used this opportunity to call for a holistic plan for the Migration Program which takes into account both global trends and Australia's needs into the future. We recommend the government learn from the successful National Settlement Framework and adopt a plan across all levels of government that will ensure our Migration Program remains flexible and dynamic.

Finally, SCoA has urged the government to review opportunities to increase access to the Migration Program for humanitarian migrants, including by investigating options to make skilled and other general visa streams more accessible and, crucially, prioritising family migration opportunities as a matter of urgency.

As a common theme across our submission, SCoA views the role of settlement services as being integral to ensuring that all new arrivals are empowered to achieve independence and become fully contributing members of the community. We see this as being the vital key to striking the best balance in our Migration Program and unlocking its full potential.

You can read SCoA's full submission here.

SCoA Policy Focus – Mental Health

In Semester 2, 2017, SCoA was pleased to host a student through the Australian National Internship Program. Rebecca is studying psychology at the ANU and embarked on some research into the mental health of refugees and the impacts of social engagement. You can download a copy of her research below. A number of SCoA members provided valuable insights to Rebecca's research and we thank them for their time. If you have any further thoughts about this issue, or would like to discuss it further, please contact our National Office on 02 6282 8515 or info@scoa.org.au.

National Settlement Services Outcomes Standards

A key objective of SCoA in recent years has been to develop a set of national standards for the delivery of settlement services which identify target outcomes across 9 key areas of settlement service delivery. The National Settlement Services Outcomes Standards (“NSSOS”) were officially launched at the International Conference of the SCoA in Melbourne in May 2016 and identify nine areas of equal importance that enable members to benchmark their service delivery against key practical considerations that contribute to successful settlement. Rather than attempting to impose new regulatory burdens on agencies operating in the settlement services sector, these standards reflect best practice and highlight the considerable work and commitment invested by SCoA members to ensure the best possible outcomes for recently arrived migrants.

SCoA Briefing Paper – Housing: August 2017

Access to suitable and sustainable housing is becoming an increasingly challenging issue in Australia. While this affects broad groups across the country, new arrivals face more hurdles than most when it comes to accessing housing. These hurdles include a number of factors such as a lack of understanding of Australian systems, lack of English, low income and insecure visa status. We find that these factors lead new arrivals to live in precarious housing situations. This is a growing concern, as not having access to appropriate housing impacts on many areas of life including health, employment, community participation, education and training and inevitably stifles new arrivals’ settlement prospects. Despite these obstacles, settlement agencies have been able to overcome some of the barriers to accessing adequate housing for new arrivals by seeking and implementing creative solutions. We have heard about countless examples of new arrivals attaining secure long-term housing across Australia through the tireless and innovative support of settlement agencies. Read our briefing paper on Housing for more information.

Employment Discussion Paper: June 2017

Overwhelmingly, SCoA believes that Australia’s humanitarian programme, and the labour market outcomes it delivers, are a success story to be proud of. With the support of the settlement sector in establish solid foundations for their lives in Australia, migrants from a refugee background overcome great challenges and achieve levels of economic engagement that are envied across similar resettlement nations worldwide.

SCoA Submission on Proposed Citizenship Changes: June 2017

In April 2017 the Federal Government proposed to make changes to citizenship requirements in Australia. The details of the proposal are contained in the Strengthening the Test for Australian Citizenship discussion paper. Australia is a nation built on immigration. It is repeatedly celebrated for its ability to include people from diverse backgrounds, skills and experience, and for the diversity and prosperity that this brings. It is widely accepted that Australia’s citizenship laws have played a crucial role in fostering inclusion and enabling the country to welcome migrants and encourage them to become part of the Australian community. This submission was released in June 2017.

Foundations of Economic Engagement: June 2017

Following comprehensive sector-wide consultation, SCoA has developed the attached information detailing the foundations of economic engagement for migrants in Australia. Engaging with the labour market is pivotal to successful settlement and remains a high priority for government, as well as a key driver for migrants themselves, who view their labour market integration as vital to their “successful immigration”. Naturally, securing lasting employment has considerable benefits for migrants as they establish their new lives in Australia. However, it must not be forgotten that the effects of migration flow through every aspect of the economy and migration results in a net fiscal benefit to Australia’s bottom line

SCoA Submission on Strengthening Multiculturalism: May 2017

Settlement Grants Program Evaluation Briefing Paper: February 2017

Settlement Services grants (SGP) are an important element of the government’s broad commitment to settlement services, and are designed to provide a varied range of projects aimed at assisting migrants as they settle into their new homes. SGP has evolved and been refined over many years resulting in a robust grants program that is closely aligned to client needs and which successfully leverages the strong connections agencies have within their communities. The specialist knowledge of agencies and staff has been built up over time resulting in settlement agencies generating significant expertise in program delivery and risk management. Briefing paper released in February 2017.

SCoA Submission to Inquiry into Migrant Settlement Outcomes: January 2017

Australia’s migration program provides a crucial opportunity to achieve mutual long‐term benefits for Australia as well as the migrants whose entry it facilitates. For this to succeed, however, services must be adequate to support new arrivals as they settle in to their new homes. Migrants in Australia, including those from a refugee background, are well known for their tenacity, resourcefulness and commitment to Australia. However it is accepted that they face challenges in their relocation to Australia and, as a result, require specific services to ensure they are able to participate actively in the economy and in society more generally. Naturally, the level of services required differs greatly between different classes of migrant and, indeed, between individual migrants. Australia has a long and proud history of delivering services that are tailored to meet the needs of new arrivals in a way that is effective, efficient and achieves the best possible settlement outcomes. Submission released January 2017.

Fundamentals of Effective Settlement 2017

SCoA Briefing Paper – Multiculturalism Alive and Well in Australia: November 2016

SCoA Regional Settlement Policy Paper: November 2016

Much of the discourse around Australia’s immigration policy focusses on the number of migrants granted permission to enter the country each year. This is increasingly contentious in relation to Australia’s refugee and humanitarian programme, where numbers remain at the forefront of public debate. Also contentious is the make-up of the programme itself: the skills, origins, health and character of migrants and the way in which they are selected. A vital element that remains absent from the majority of debate, however, is the distribution of those migrants on their arrival in Australia...

SCoA Submission to Inquiry into Freedom of Speech in Australia: December 2016

SCoA considers that the current provisions within the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) (RDA), the subject of this Inquiry, provide a basis for respect and tolerance which are core to any community and are essential in a multicultural democracy. As such, on behalf of our members, SCoA urges the Inquiry exercise extreme caution when considering recommendations to reform Section 18C and 18D of the RDA. Submission released in December 2016.

SCoA Submission to Senate on Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill: September 2016

The strengths that families bring to the settlement process are well documented. Family provides significant support during the challenging process of settlement, leading to long-term personal, social, community and economic benefits. Families can be a built-in social network reducing isolation and providing emotional support. They can share economic burdens such as cost of housing. They support each other to navigate new cultural and government systems. The role of the family in Australia’s settlement programme therefore cannot be underestimated. This submission was released in September 2016

SCoA Submission to Temporary Parent Visa review: August 2016

SCoA recognises and celebrates the enormous value that family migration contributes to Australia, often in non-traditional economic terms including providing social and emotional support and fulfilling family roles including childcare. This is especially clear in the settlement sector, where family reunion can play a vital role in the successful settlement of people from refugee backgrounds. This issue was the focus of our Issues Paper on Family Reunion, released in August 2016.