Monday 5 September 2022: The peak body for settlement services is calling on the government to urgently expand settlement assistance programs and ensure skilled migrants can access support services, following Friday’s announcement on the skilled migration cap at the jobs and skills summit.
The Settlement Council of Australia (SCOA), comprising a network of over 115 member organisations nationally, welcomed remarks from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the Jobs and Skills summit that Australia would shift to a focus on permanent migration, reducing the over reliance on temporary migration.
The Council has been calling on the government to prioritise permanent migration for several years and congratulates the Albanese government on taking the leadership on this issue.
While SCOA has a shared commitment to support new arrivals, the current federal government program for settlement services is outdated and inadequate to meet the increased demand, with most skilled migrants currently ineligible to access support services.
SCOA CEO Sandra Elhelw Wright said: “The focus on permanency is important for safeguarding our social cohesion and successful multiculturalism. But we have to make significant strides to ensure anyone who is new to Australia is welcomed and supported to belong, thrive and lead fulfilling lives.”
“Migrants who arrive in Australia will contribute economically, but we also have an obligation to support them socially,” she added.
Settlement services provide invaluable support to migrants and refugees. New arrivals may need assistance navigating the property market and the health system, information on where to send their kids to school, and introduction to social groups who are nearby to start making friends. The quicker and more seamless this process of adjustment is, the quicker and more significant migrants’ contribution to society.
“People who come to Australia to fill skill shortages will become our future Australians. Currently, skilled migrants are by and large left to fend completely for themselves when they arrive in Australia,” Ms Elhelw Wright added.
“Everyone who arrives in Australia to fill a skills shortage will undergo a process of settlement, and we are calling on the government to help us to help them settle as seamlessly as possible when they arrive.”
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.
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