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ATCR 2019 Report

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 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 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.

SCoA Annual Report 2017-2018

Fundamentals of effective settlement – 2018

Multiculturalism in Australia

SCoA Policy Focus – Loneliness

Humanitarian Settlement Program online survey – 30 August 2018

As the national peak body for settlement in Australia, the Settlement Council of Australia welcomes the government’s commitment to the delivery of settlement services that are focused on achieving effective settlement outcomes for recently arrived migrants from a refugee background. In 2017, this commitment was manifested in the introduction of the Humanitarian Settlement Program (HSP), which targets settlement service delivery for the first twelve months post arrival and has a stated focus on increasing outcomes against the “3E’s”: Employment, Education and English. Since the introduction of the HSP, almost 12 months ago, SCoA has had regular discussions with government and with our members about the program, its delivery and its stated policy objectives. Arising out of those discussions, SCoA has developed a survey to test the views of the settlement sector about the HSP and determine how best SCoA can advocate on behalf of all members.
Please click here to complete the survey today!
The survey, which is entirely anonymous and will be collated and analysed by an independent consultant, will enable us to synthesize the most common areas where practical improvements could be made, with the intention of providing input into the outcomes-focus of the HSP. Our intention, in light of our role as peak body, is to provide a cohesive voice for the sector on this important program.We have discussed the survey in detail with government, which has expressed its support for this approach and is eagerly awaiting practical insights that will inform the ongoing improvement of policy and practice in the HSP model.
The survey will take only ten minutes to complete and we strongly encourage every SCoA member to participate (and where relevant, multiple staff within each member organisation). It is designed to capture information from service providers both directly and indirectly involved in the HSP program.
Please click here to complete the survey today! The survey will close on Friday 14 September 2018.

The future of employment services in Australia: July 2018

SCoA Achievements 2017-2018

SCoA's 2017-2018 Achievements Record is now available. The document catalogues SCoA's work over 2017-2018, 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 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


1 May 2018


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 / SCoA: 0434 589 493 /

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 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