SCOA welcomes investment for vital settlement services 

Jul 31, 2023 | Media Release

The Settlement Council of Australia has welcomed the Federal Government’s commitment to invest $2.6 million for providers of the Settlement Engagement and Transition Support (SETS) program, which will provide long-awaited relief for settlement services facing unprecedented funding pressures. 

SCOA’s chief executive Sandra Elhelw said: “SCOA and many of our member organisations have been tirelessly advocating for additional funding, and we applaud the government’s commitment to working towards a sustainable settlement sector that can attract and retain a skilled workforce.”  

“The settlement sector workforce is both female-dominated and has a high proportion of workers from migrant and refugee backgrounds. The effectiveness of our world class settlement services relies on this dedicated and specialist workforce.” 

“Ensuring settlement services are adequately funded is a matter of equity for both the workforce, and the diverse communities they serve.” 

Community Services Manager at MultiLink Community Services Inc. (SETS provider) and SCOA Deputy Chair Michael Zgryza said: “For us, this funding will mean we are able to provide more services to people and communities who need them. It could be the difference between being able to keep staffing at optimal levels, being able to keep a program activity running, or providing continued levels of language and cultural support through our bicultural multilingual workers who are themselves from migrant and refugee backgrounds. Either way, it is a much needed funding uplift and some relief in addressing the financial stressors on our SETS services.” 

A recent consultation with SETS providers showed that 87% of organisations reduced staffing levels or indicated that their workforce would reduce if funding pressures were not addressed.  

Melissa Monteiro, Chair of SCOA, highlighted the urgent need for sustainable funding to avoid service disruptions: “The closure of at least one settlement service and the potential risks faced by others underscore the critical importance of this funding announcement.” 

The Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Andrew Giles, confirmed the funding details at a virtual Settlement CEO Collective meeting convened by SCOA in mid-July.  

“SCOA is grateful to Minister Giles, his team, and the Department of Home Affairs for working with us and our members towards this solution,” Ms Elhelw said. 

  “There is more work to be done to ensure the SETS program is sustainable. We look forward to continuing to work with the government to ensure settlement reforms allow our sector to recruit and retain a skilled and passionate workforce,” Ms Elhelw said.  

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. 


SCOA media enquiries:  

Mahsa Fratantoni, 0422 180 674 

To read the media statement issued by The Hon Andrew Giles MP visit