December Migration Director Update
This past month, I made a trip to Canberra to appear at a public hearing before the Parliament of Australia’s Joint Standing Committee on Migration. The Committee has been asked by the Minister for Immigration to inquire into, and report on, migration in regional Australia. It is looking at the entire range of migration settlement strategies and migration settings for both skilled and humanitarian migrants in regional Australia, and is particularly focused on ways to successfully encourage people to settle and stay in regional areas.
At the start of the Inquiry, RAI’s co-CEO Dr Kim Houghton gave a private briefing to the Members and made suggestions about regions to visit and questions to ask. We also made a written submission which is available on the Parliament of Australia’s website. The briefing and submission covered a range of issues that RAI considers as challenges to successful settlement that need to be addressed. The submission contained 13 recommendations on the following issues which RAI considers could overcome some current challenges. These are:
- Including migration and population into long-term growth planning at all levels of government;
- Developing a consultation mechanism whereby Local Government Areas (LGAs) can convey their needs and opportunities for migration into national planning;
- Recognising the importance of the local community in making regional migration successful and sustainable and considering ways to support the local community to develop and maintain locally-led migration initiatives;
- Providing evidence as to the contribution of migration to counter myths and misperceptions. Providing information about the economic contribution of migration to Australia as well on regional case studies to support the development of locally-led migration strategies;
- Providing information about the cultural and national background of migrants as well as information for migrants on life in Australia, on employment and on rights and responsibilities, which will assist in their settlement. These should be available in templates which can be adapted for use at a local level;
- Recognising that all new arrivals, regardless of visa type, need some level of assistance in order to be able to settle well into a regional community. Such assistance should be planned and coordinated locally and available within the community, to ensure that there are no gaps in delivery;
- Providing information, training and support to regional employers on being an “employer of choice” for migrant workers, ensuring their ongoing competitiveness. This includes information tools on visas and contractual provisions;
- Ensuring that longer term investment and planning goes in to ensuring that there are employment and study pathways for young people in regional areas;
- Considering the promotion and incentivisation of secondary migration, including support for employers and making linkages between employers and migrants in capital cities;
- Monitoring the new regional visas to ensure that they are assisting regional employers to fill their labour needs;
- Giving consideration to housing needs in regional Australia and how to ensure that new residential development is economically viable, in order to allow towns and businesses to attract migrants to regional Australia;
- Accompanying policy-making on migration to regional areas with a commitment to dedicate resources to the provision of infrastructure and services in regional Australia; and
- Appointing an independent advisory panel to provide cross-portfolio advice and information on migration to regional Australia, providing a conduit for information from agencies and from regional areas to be brought to the national level as well as undertaking research, surveys and studies to provide an evidence-base for policy-making.
RAI is very excited about this Inquiry and considers it timely and needed. We are looking forward to continuing to support its work, and to the release of its report.
And that’s a wrap for a busy and fascinating few months visiting places in regional Australia and supporting communities to develop their own strategies for successful migration. 2020 is shaping up to be a very exciting year for RAI and I look forward to providing the next update. In the meantime, wishing you all a wonderful festive season!