The Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs has handed down its Report into the government’s proposed legislation which will increase the Newly Arrived Residents’ Waiting Period to three years from the current two. SCoA reminds readers that an additional government proposal, contained in the May 2018 Budget, would see that period increase by a further 12 months to four years.
SCoA made a detailed submission to this inquiry and appeared before the Committee in its hearing on the proposed legislation.
While the Report ultimately supports the bill, SCoA notes that it contains a comprehensive review of the concerns raised by SCoA and a number of our colleagues across the multicultural sector, that this measure could have significant detrimental consequences for new Australians as they begin their lives in Australia.
In their dissenting report, the Australian Greens have highlighted the submission by SCoA CEO Nick Tebbey, where he stated:
SCOA is concerned that the newly arrived residents waiting period, if it is
increased in both time and scope, will potentially render a number of
migrants who may become vulnerable following their arrival in Australia
unable to access much-needed assistance. We suggest that, for these
migrants, the need for assistance is likely to be a short-term one and one
that, if properly addressed, will assist those migrants in regaining their
independence as quickly as possible. Without access to such payments,
however, these issues and the hardship facing those migrants are likely to
be exacerbated. For this reason, we see that the waiting period may indeed
have the unintended consequence of further entrenching people in a
position of ongoing hardship and ultimately increasing the long-term
economic cost to Australia and denying it the significant economic
SCoA notes the Australian Labor Party has indicated it will support the legislation, after securing a number of amendments that preserve access to at least some social security payments.
SCoA continues to hold significant concern over the legislation and urges all parties to oppose it, and to maintain Australia’s long history of welcoming, and supporting, new Australians.
Dewani Bakkum, Chair of the Settlement Council, stated “this measure has the potential to impede migrants’ settlement journeys and may leave many without much needed support in times of crisis.”
“The grant of permanent residency represents the conclusion of a complex visa application process. It symbolizes the acceptance of a migrant and their family into the Australian community and commences the two-way process of settlement” said Ms Bakkum.
Most migrants coming to Australia are well-resourced to settle productively in a short timeframe, however there are circumstances in which unforeseen need may arise, requiring access to government support. “In these instances, Australia should be ready and willing to support migrants to ensure they are able to achieve independence as quickly as possible, through early intervention and, where necessary, the provision of welfare support” she said.
Australia stands to gain the most through greater long-term economic and social contributions from better-settled migrants and their families who have access to appropriate support in times of need.