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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Settlement?

Settlement is a two-way process of migrants and refugees adjusting to a new life in Australia, and Australia welcoming migrants and refugees. Successful settlement enables migrants and refugees to fully participate in life in Australia.

According to the National Settlement Outcomes Standards (NSOS), effective settlement includes migrants and refugees being able to achieve positive outcomes across the following ten areas:

  1. education;
  2. employment;
  3. health and wellbeing;
  4. housing;
  5. language services;
  6. transport;
  7. civic participation;
  8. family and social support;
  9. justice; and
  10. finance

When migrants and refugees are independent, secure and accepted, and demonstrate positive outcomes across these ten areas, they can be said to have ‘settled.’

Settlement is not a sequential or linear process that is the same for everyone. The time it takes for people to feel settled in Australia may be shorter, or longer; and may even be a lifelong process. In many cases, a life event—such as a relationship breakdown, or job loss—may set migrants ‘backwards’ in their settlement journey. Some migrants may also undertake elements of settlement while on temporary visas, and prior to becoming a permanent resident.


What are Settlement Services?

Settling in a new country can be a stressful process. Settlement services support migrants and refugees with this process. Our members include agencies, large and small, who are committed to the successful settlement of refugees and migrants across the country. Their services range from greeting new arrivals at the airport, through to assisting them to secure housing and access services.

What role does SCOA play?

Being the peak body for Settlement Services means that we are a community of our members.

We facilitate Understanding.

Our work brings together the collective experiences of members. We help the sector respond to changes and expand capacity by sharing best practice solutions to common problems.

We help our members Grow.

We provide the foundations for members to grow. Our programs upskill our members to make change in their communities.

We are the Voice of the sector.

Learning from members and listening to their experiences, we provide a vital connection to government. We shape the policy that shapes our sector.

How do Settlement Services function in Australia?

Settlement services are support services provided to new arrivals to help them adjust to life in Australia. These services help new arrivals settle in Australia across the ten key areas as set out in SCoA’s National Settlement Outcomes Standards (NSOS).

Settlement service providers can be broadly categorised into two groups: Organsiations whose core function is the provision of settlement services and other organisations who are not specifically focused on settlement but play a positive and critical role in the settlement journey. These include other community services, advocacy bodies, and ethno-specific associations.

Settlement specific services are funded through three main programs:

  1. Humanitarian Settlement Program (HSP)

The first is the Humanitarian Settlement Program (HSP), this program is managed by the Department of Home Affairs with the aim of helping new arrivals build the skills and knowledge they need to become self-reliant.. This program is targeted at meeting the immediate and critical settlement needs of new arrivals. Through this program, services assist individuals to set up their first home, enrol into English and education services, take steps towards employment, learn how to navigate public transport systems, and address a range of other needs so that individuals and families can live independently in Australia.

  1. Settlement Engagement and Transition Support (SETS)

The Settlement Engagement and Transition Support (SETS) Program. This program is complementary to the HSP program with the aim of meeting longer term settlement needs of new arrivals. The program is primarily focused on social participation, economic well-being, independence, personal wellbeing, and community connectedness.

There are two components of SETS. Client services is support targeted on the individual level, supporting new arrivals to access services and adapt their skillset to their new home. This component has a key role in supporting positive English, education, and employment outcomes.

The second element, Community Capacity Building, helps new and emerging community groups and organisations support their specific communities towards collectively increasing the social participation, economic and personal well-being of community members. This is done through activities such as leadership training, governance development, and creating linkages with the broader community. This component ensures settlement is in the long-term.

More information can be found on the department’s website here.

  1. Adult Migrant English Program AMEP

The AMEP facilitates the advancement of new arrivals English skills. The program is available to all permanent visa holders and some temporary visa holders.

AMEP is provided by a number of settlement services across the country. More information can be found on the home affairs website here.

State Based Programs

In addition to the national programs there are a number of state-based programs that support settlement. These vary significantly across different states and territories. To find out more about the specific programs available in your state or territory, get in touch with your local settlement service.


Key statistics in settlement

Who do we work with?

SCOA’s job is to work with any organisation that interacts with migrants and refugees to promote the best outcomes. This means we have a lot of partners we work with, too many to name. Below we’ve provided a list of some of our key partners.

Our Members – SCOA Members are on the front line of supporting new arrivals, they are the backbone of the sector. We draw on their experiences and knowledge to inform our policy and advocacy work, as well as to determine our capacity building activities.


The Department of Home Affairs  – The Department of Home Affairs is the government department responsible for Settlement and Immigration in Australia. SCOA receives funding from the Department to support the settlement sector and promote positive settlement outcomes.

Services Australia – The government department responsible for social, health and child support services and payments.

The Department of HealthThe government department responsible for health and aged care system and supporting health, ageing and sport outcomes.


Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) – FECCA is the peak, national body representing Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. FECCA advocates on behalf of CALD Australians to government, business and the broader community.

Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network (MYAN) – MYAN is a national advocacy non-profit body that provides advice to government, capacity building to those who work with young people, and supports young people to be leaders at the national and international levels.

Refugee Council of Australia – The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) is the national umbrella body for refugees and people seeking asylum and those who support them.

Migration Council of Australia (MCA) – The Migration Council Australia (MCA) is an independent, non-partisan, not-for-profit body established to enhance the productive benefits of Australia’s migration and humanitarian programs.

National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA) – National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA) is a national Disabled People’s Organisation (DPO) that advocates federally for the human rights of people with disability, and their families, from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) and non-English speaking backgrounds (NESB).

Welcoming Australia – A non-partisan movement and organisation committed to cultivating a culture of welcome and advancing an Australia where people of all backgrounds have equal opportunity to belong, contribute and thrive.