Media Release: Settlement Sector calls on government to consider key migration recommendations for a better Australia

Apr 27, 2023 | Media Release

SCOA’s Response to release of Migration Review

The Settlement Council of Australia (SCOA) has praised the Federal Government’s announcement that all skilled temporary migrants currently in Australia will have a pathway to permanency, but is calling on the government to adopt our key recommendations to ensure all migrants are supported once they arrive in Australia.  

SCOA CEO Sandra Elhelw Wright said: “We have been calling for many years for a move away from a reliance on temporary migration and we’re thrilled to see the government move forward on this.”  

“A sense of permanency is important for social cohesion – it means people can invest in their future, and truly build a home in Australia,” she added. 

SCOA welcomed comments in the review noting the need to better support migrants after they arrive in Australia and hoped to see further commitments on this. In her address to the National Press Club, Minister O’Neil also flagged that the National Cabinet would meet on Friday to start a conversation about national planning for the services and infrastructure needed to support the migration program.  

SCOA has long called for better planning to support migration in relation to housing, education, health, and other infrastructure and services. The absence of this planning has been a key factor limiting the success of regional migration. 

SCOA is hopeful that these discussions will lead to improved support for migrants after they arrive in Australia. Currently, countries such as Canada have much more comprehensive services available to all migrants, including skilled migrants. The perceived level of support that migrants receive is one of the reasons Australia has been losing out on key talent to other migrant receiving countries such as Canada. 

Ms Elhelw Wright said: “People who come to Australia to fill skill shortages will become our future Australians. Currently, skilled migrants and their families are by and large left to fend completely for themselves upon arrival. In order to better attract and retain migrants to our shores, Australia has to be seen as a destination where new arrivals will be supported early on in their settlement journey.” 

“We want to be a country where migrants know that if they come across hard times, they and their families will be supported,” she added.  

In recent years the majority of federal funding for settlement services has been for refugees and humanitarian entrants, however settlement is a process that all people who migrate to Australia go through. The report acknowledged that eligibility for services is currently tied to visa class rather than need. SCOA is supportive of expanding the eligibility of settlement services and a more needs-based support system.  

“Australia already has the services to support migrants, and we are asking the federal government to better leverage that by expanding the eligibility of services,” Ms Elhelw Wright added.  

SCOA also looks forward to the anticipated changes to the qualification and skills recognition process.  

Qualifications recognition and licensing continues to be one of the biggest barriers to migrant and refugee participation in the labour market due to challenges relating to coordination and oversight, fairness of processes, system navigation, English language requirements, and costs.  

A 2021 CEDA study found approximately 23% of permanent skilled migrants in Australia were working in a job beneath their skill level costing $1.25 billion in foregone wages between 2013-2018. 

SCOA made its formal submission for the Migration Review in December 2022.  

In February, SCOA attended targeted consultation sessions with the Migration System Reviewers, Dr Martin Parkinson AC PSM, Dr Joanna Howe and Mr John Azarias.  

For SCOA’s full submission and recommendations visit  


Interviews with SCOA spokespersons, or migrants with lived experience available upon request.  

Media contact: Mahsa Fratantoni, 0422 180 674 

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.