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Message from the chair

Hello and welcome to SCoA’s April Newsletter.

The theme of this newsletter is the all-encompassing topic of social engagement. Our team at the National Office have curated a collection of stories and case studies from across the sector that highlight the important work of SCoA members to build a sense of community among their clients, and connect them with the broader Australian community.

This is a good time to reflect on the importance of social engagement for new arrivals and the crucial social support services that SCoA members provide. Often these activities are less prominently featured due to an increasing focus on more tangible outcomes such as employment, however this does not mean they are any less important to the settlement journey.

To the contrary, proper social engagement is a crucial foundation of settlement, and contributes significantly to migrants’ feelings of independence, security and welcome in their new home.

I hope you enjoy the case studies we have presented.

Quickly, I would like to give you an overview of some of our activities over the last two months. You will find more detail on these in the “What’s Happening at SCOA” diary, but a few key highlights included:

  • We continue to represent the sector in relation to the upcoming round of funding under the Settlement Grants Program, with our discussions heavily informed by the member consultations we held in late 2017.
    We now understand that the grants round is likely to open in mid-May, so stay tuned.
  • SCoA contributed to the Senate Community Affairs Committee inquiry into the Social Services (Encouraging Self Sufficiency for Newly Arrived Migrants) Bill. This included making both a written submission and appearing before the Committee at a hearing on 17 April.
    We used both opportunities to advocate for appropriate and sufficient support for all migrants, to ensure that the best possible settlement outcomes can be achieved.
  • Our team thoroughly enjoyed attending the Third Annual Welcoming Cities Symposium in Adelaide. It was a great opportunity for collaboration and to share stories of what works well in enhancing settlement experiences for newly arrived migrants.
  • We have held numerous meetings with representatives of government and other politicians, as well as various government departments, representing the diverse interests and experiences of the sector, especially in relation to employment, the proposed changes to citizenship and other issues of importance.
  • I had the pleasure, along with our CEO, Nick, and our Sector Development Officer, Jamila, of attending the UNHCR’s Canberra NGO Consultations, where a range of important topics were canvassed and discussed among the NGO sector.

I would like to take this opportunity welcome two volunteers who have recently started at the National Office, Manjari and Ana, who are assisting the team with a range of important tasks. We are also proud to currently be hosting Yin, a psychology student from the Australian National University, who comes to us through the Australian National Internship Program. Yin is conducting research into psychological impacts of social support and her research promises to be very interesting and useful. We look forward to making that research available on our website in due course.

I hope that you enjoy this edition of Settlement News and invite you to contact our national office on 02 6282 8515 if you have any comments, suggestions or questions.

Kind regards

Dewani Bakkum,

SCoA Chairperson