Minister for Immigration joined Settlement Council of Australia to launch Road to Belonging Strategy in Canberra on Thursday
THURSDAY 24 NOVEMBER 2022: A collective of Australia’s leading migration and settlement groups has committed to an ambitious five-year strategy to further strengthen the settlement experience for our country’s newest arrivals as the government sets to increase the migration cap and cut visa waiting times.
The Road to Belonging Strategy outlines the gold standard for settlement in Australia and provides a practical roadmap for the Australian settlement sector to bolster the country’s capacity for a more seamless, equitable, and prosperous system for migrants and the Australian population.
Led by the Settlement Council of Australia, the strategy has been co-designed with representatives from local and national settlement organisations, peak bodies, government departments and other key stakeholders, many of whom have lived experience of migration.
Some of the focus areas for the roadmap include further supporting and protecting migrant workers, and bolstering support services for vulnerable groups including women, children, LGBTQI+ people, and migrants in regional areas.
SCOA CEO Sandra Elhelw Wright said: “Over the next five years, Australia is set to welcome approximately one million people through our migration and humanitarian programs. Australia’s success hinges on how well we support successive waves of migrants and refugees to belong, thrive and lead fulfilling lives.”
“Most migrants are currently parachuted into the country with little to no orientation, and it takes a great deal of resourcefulness, resilience, and time to become established. We need to make the process easier than it currently is. The quicker and more seamlessly new arrivals learn to navigate life in Australia, know their rights, and get work in their chosen professions, the more we all benefit from migration,” Ms Elhelw Wright added.
“This plan is about bringing together a broad coalition of groups and working together to optimise the settlement experience. Good settlement is what ensures the success of Australia’s migration and humanitarian programs,” she said.
The five-year plan will be implemented by six working groups chaired by Multicultural Australia, Settlement Services International, Host International, Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights, Canterbury City Community Centre, and SydWest Multicultural Services.
Clement Meru, Community Engagement & Disability Services Manager at SydWest Multicultural Services and SCOA Board Member (NSW), said people with lived experience are at the heart of the proposed strategy.
“Programs will be designed in consultation with migrant groups, and as a cohesive unit we will deliver a roadmap that adopts the absolute best practice for engaging with these communities,” said Mr Meru, who will chair the working group for migrant communities.
“People from migrant and refugee backgrounds are resilient and they have the capacity and skills to contribute to our society and economy, and this roadmap will help them fulfil that potential,” added Mr Meru.
Syrian refugee and single mother, Chantal Mousad, was a Chief Risk Officer in the financial sector and living in Erbil in northern Iraq before migrating to Australia with her young daughter on a humanitarian visa in 2017.
During her settlement in Queensland, Ms Mousad says she could not find work that matched her skills and instead worked 12-hour shifts as a cleaner, convenience store worker, removalist company packer, and a waiter, to cover rent and childcare costs.
“It was tough, I struggled and cried a lot. At times I didn’t have money to get to my workplace so I would walk 40 to 50 minutes just to get to work,” Ms Mousad said.
“I was told I don’t have Australian experience in finance, and my overseas qualifications were initially dismissed by potential employers. I felt like I was being judged by my name, my accent, the area that I lived in, and my overseas experience.”
Ms Mousad says a chance encounter with a friend led her to CareerSeekers, a non-profit organisation supporting Australia’s humanitarian entrants into professional careers through paid 12-week internships, which gave her the opportunity to eventually land a role in the finance sector.
“I was lucky to find CareerSeekers when I did. But what about other women or men in need, how do they find these organisations if we don’t support them?”
“I think the most important thing for any newcomer is first to secure a job. When you secure a job it has a positive impact on their lives, their family, and has a good impact on the community,” Ms Mousad said.
Adding: “It’s easy to survive in Australia, but you can’t just eat and survive, you need to live a full life.”
The Road to Belonging Strategy will be launched and presented by the Settlement Council of Australia and the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, The Hon. Andrew Giles MP at SCOA’s Annual General Meeting and Dinner to be held in Canberra on Thursday.
Download the full SCOA report at ‘Road to Belonging: A Collective Strategy for Australian Settlement Services’.
To arrange media interviews, or for more information contact: Mahsa Fratantoni, SCOA Media Advisor, 0422 180 674 or Sandra Elhelw Wright, SCOA CEO, on 0403 657 831.
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.