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What’s happening at SCoA

Welcome to SCoA’s April 2018 newsletter, focusing on the theme of Social Engagement.

We are delighted to share with you case studies from around the sector, featuring projects and partnerships that support social engagement for new arrivals.

While the concepts of social engagement and inclusion often take a back seat in policy to more concrete objectives such as employment outcomes and English language acquisition, there is a plethora of research that suggests that settlement hinges upon successful social integration for new arrivals. The Settlement Sector plays a key role in facilitating social engagement, through activities, education and events designed to introduce new arrivals to the broader community and facilitate the social bonds crucial for long term settlement outcomes.

Please enjoy our curated collection of case studies, and just quickly, a brief update below of what the SCoA Team has been up to.

Advocacy

It is never a dull moment in the advocacy space, and SCoA has been hard at work over the past two months bringing the sector’s views to a number of crucial inquiries and political developments.

  • We have made clear the sector’s opposition to the notion of testing English Language skills as a prerequisite for obtaining Australian citizenship, as well as calling for a sector-wide response to the private member’s bill sponsored by Senator Hanson which sought to increase the residence requirement to 8 years permanent residence.
    We continue to collaborate closely with other stakeholders as well as our members in relation to potential future changes.
  • We made a submission to the Senate Committee on Community Affairs’ inquiry into the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Encouraging Self Sufficiency for Newly Arrived Migrants) Bill – which seeks to increase the waiting period for most social benefit payments for migrants (other than humanitarian entrants) to three years.
    In addition to our submission, our CEO, Nick Tebbey, appeared before the Committee to give evidence and we subsequently worked with the Migration Council Australia to provide a follow-up submission highlighting the adverse impact that a waiting period can have.
  • A number of other inquiries have been worthy of some attention and we have worked with FECCA to bring the multicultural and settlement sectors’ views to the Joint Standing Committee on Migration’s two inquiries (into visa cancellations and the regulation of migration agents respectively).

We will keep members updated as the outcomes of these inquiries become known.

Representation

The last two months have provided many opportunities for SCoA to represent its members in a number of meetings and events.

  • We met with the office of newly appointed Minister for Social Services, the Hon Dan Tehan, and enjoyed a fruitful and long discussion about the role of the settlement sector and the need for continued focus on achieving settlement outcomes that take into account the full spectrum of a migrant’s settlement journey.
  • We have met with various other politicians including Senator Richard di Natale, Ms Maria Vamvakinou MP, Mr Ed Husic MP, and others, to discuss matters of importance to the settlement sector.
  • We continue to meet regularly with a number of government colleagues including in the Department of Social Services, Department of Human Services, Department of Health and Department of Jobs and Small Business. The outcomes of some of these meetings have been separately reported.
  • On 13 April 2018 our team attended the UNHCR’s Canberra NGO Consultations, discussing matters of importance to refugee settlement in Australia. See our report here.
  • We were delighted in March to represent the sector at the 3rd Annual Welcoming Cities Symposium in Adelaide. See our report here.
  • Also in April, Nick has met with researchers from Monash University and the Scanlon Foundation to workshop the highly influential Mapping Social Cohesion Index, and also took part in a high-level roundtable on Inclusive Procurement.

The team at SCoA is passionate about bringing the views and experiences of the settlement sector to the forefront of debate and policy development across the country and thank our members for putting your trust in us to represent you in this regard.

 

Events

From Youth Week, to International Women’s Day and of course Harmony Day (the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination), March and April are busy times for social events.

We thoroughly enjoyed the Harmony Day celebrations we participated in this year. You can see our report here. We acknowledge the huge variety of events that were organised by our Members across the country and were pleased to share those in a special newsletter (available here). We also used the event to call for greater protection of multiculturalism in Australia and a renewed commitment to the eradication of racism and discrimination.

We also shared some of the remarkable International Women’s Day Events, here.

In March, Jamila was lucky to attend the launch of In Our Own Voices, a joint project of SCoA members the Middle Eastern Communities Council of South Australia and the Australian Migrant Resource Centre. It was a fantastic celebration and you can read about it here.

Finally, we enjoyed working with our colleagues at the Refugee Council of Australia to bring together a useful and very popular Settlement Policy Network webinar on Citizenship in Australia. A report of the Webinar will be published soon.

Special Focus: Employment

Never far from the agenda, it seems the focus on employment outcomes will continue to be of significant importance to the settlement sector (as well as the broader community).

Following our Employment Innovation Forums in 2017, SCoA has continued to pursue opportunities to improve employment outcomes, including through research as well as policy development. We have some exciting projects to announce soon in this regard, but for now wanted to recap a few important recent developments.

  • SCoA CEO Nick Tebbey met with the Department of Jobs and Small Business in April to discuss, among other topics, the appointment of an Expert Panel to review the JobActive system in preparation for the 2020 contract round. It was a useful discussion at which we were able to raise a number of direct issues on behalf of the sector and engage in a practical discussion about how they may be overcome.
    We also learned that in mid-2018 there will be a public consultation on the proposed new direction of JobActive, giving all members of the community a chance to have their say, both through written submissions and some dedicated stakeholder events.
    We will keep members updated as to when these are taking place.
  • SCoA also took part in a roundtable organised by Mr Ed Husic MP in which he sought the input of various representatives from the community sector to develop some direct insights into the JobActive system. It will be interesting to see how this progresses.
  • SCoA is developing a comprehensive policy response to the specific employment hurdles facing migrants and refugees and we seek member input. A formal invitation to provide input will be forthcoming shortly but in the meantime please send through any comments to the SCoA National Office on info@scoa.org.au