Wednesday 26th October 2022: The peak body for settlement services, the Settlement Council of Australia, welcomes Labor’s first Budget. The Budget takes some good first steps to building a more welcoming society in the face of increasing migration.
Tuesday’s Budget included several measures that directly support people of migrant and refugee backgrounds:
- $20.0 million over 4 years from 2022–23 to provide more flexible delivery options for the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) and increase case management support to students
- $18.2 million over 4 years from 2022–23 to establish a Community Language Schools Grants program to support more young Australians to learn a second language.
- $12.6 million over two years from 2022–23 for a pilot program to assist Temporary Visa Holders who are experiencing domestic violence.
- $7.5 million over 4 years from 2022–23 (and $1.4 million per year ongoing) for the Australian Human Rights Commission to develop a National Anti-Racism Strategy
- $1.0 million over two years from 2022–23 to conduct a review of Australia’s multicultural policy settings.
- $0.6m in additional funding in 2022-23 for the Ukrainian Community and Settlement Support program.
- Anti-racism strategy
Chair of the Council, Ms Melissa Monteiro, said, “These measures are a positive step in providing a more welcoming society for migrants and refugees to make Australia home. As we look to increase our migration and humanitarian intakes in the future, strengthening the social infrastructure that supports new arrivals to settle is more important than ever.”
However, the Council was disappointed there has not been sufficient relief for settlement services which have experienced serious funding pressures over recent years.
The budget included $560.0 million over 4 years to support community sector organisations to meet wages pressures and higher inflation. However, settlement services will not be receiving any of this much needed relief. The settlement workforce is both female dominated and has a higher proportion of workers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Viewed in this light, this issue is a matter of social equity for both the workers, and the people they serve.
Council CEO, Sandra Elhelw Wright said, “Wages growth, inflation, and reduced funding to some settlement programs have put severe pressure on services supporting migrants and refugees. If action is not taken soon, we will start to see some smaller services close their doors.”
The Federal Treasurer, Jim Chalmers, himself acknowledged the critical role of settlement services on Monday saying, “We will always be supportive of settlement services. We know how important they are.”
Ms Wright added that, “The Budget shows new migrants are forecast to have a positive impact of $448 million over the next 4 years. However, we must not view these new arrivals in purely economic terms. We also have a social obligation to ensure they belong, thrive and have fulfilling lives. We look forward to working with Government to realise this ahead of the May Budget.”
The Council was also disappointed to see the Humanitarian Program had not increased. Ms Monteiro said, “We have immense social and professional capital in Australia to support a much larger humanitarian intake, and we look forward to working with the Federal government to ramp up our capacity and increase the humanitarian intake.”
For media enquiries or to arrange an interview, contact Sandra Elhelw Wright at email@example.com or on 0403 657 831.
About The Settlement Council of Australia
The Settlement Council of Australia (SCOA) is the peak body representing services across Australia supporting new migrants and refugees. We are committed to building an Australia where every migrant and refugee feels at home, together with our membership which is over 115 members strong and counting. We are a trusted source of policy advice, and a thought leader on enhancing the economic and social inclusion of migrants and refugees.
The services of our members range from greeting new arrivals at the airport, through to assisting them to secure housing, learn English, make social connections, access services and find their first job. Australia’s settlement services are recognised as being among the best in the world.