refugee

Opportunity and a welcome helps newcomers settle in Australia

by Ray Clancy on November 22, 2017

in Australia Immigration

Employment, a welcoming community and opportunities for young people are the key elements for the successful settlement of migrants and refugees in Australia, a conference has heard.

What people want the most is a sense of belonging, equal opportunities, recognition, inclusion, trust and legitimacy, the Advancing Community Cohesion Conference at the University of Western Sydney was told.

(JegasRa/Bigstock.com)

‘Internationally we are often cited as a good example of a multicultural society that welcomes diversity. But if we’re honest, many of us are aware that a lack of inclusion, a lack of acceptance of difference, does exist in Australian society,’ said Cath Scarth, chief executive officer of refugee and migrant settlement agency AMES.

‘Popular wisdom and the experiences of many would also suggest that our smaller rural, largely white ‘Anglo’ communities are the least inclusive and offer fewer opportunities for migrants and refugees to get ahead,’ she added.

She cited the examples of Nhill and Bendigo, two towns in regional Victoria where considerable work has been put into ensuring successful settlement outcomes. She explained that in Nhill with a population of just 2,200 the arrival of a large community of refugees brought benefits for everyone.

‘The settlement of a community of Karen refugees in Nhill clearly demonstrates social cohesion in a diverse community and where there is social inclusion, including both economic and social opportunities, trust and leadership in both communities and opportunities to get ahead socially and economically,’ she explained.

‘When people have access to work, they can rebuild their lives, educate their children and secure their futures. They are also perceived by the local community as contributing and adding value to the community,’ she added.

Other key factors contributing to the cohesiveness of the diverse community in Nhill included strong leadership in both communities, community acceptance, appropriate and affordable accommodation, and support for whole families, including access to education.

She said that in the case of Bendigo, which has a larger host community, inclusive settlement may take longer. ‘But it can still benefit both communities socially and economically if approached in the right way,’ Scarth told the meeting.

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