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Boosting regional settlement of migrants, refugees

7 October 20190 comments

An innovative new project to settle refugees and migrants in regional Victorian communities in need of a skills and population boost is underway.

Funded by the Australian Government and delivered by migrant and refugee settlement agency AMES Australia, the ‘Bridge to regional employment opportunities’ is a Try, Test and Learn Fund project supporting refugees and migrants, who have so far struggled to find work and put down roots properly, to settle in regional Victoria.

The project aims to support 50 families find jobs, homes and social and educational networks in towns like Ararat, Stawell, Mildura and Swan Hill; as well as in the surrounding districts, between now and 2021.

The aim of the Try, Test and Learn Fund is to generate new insights into what works to reduce long-term welfare dependence. This includes seeking new ideas from and collaborating with a diverse range of stakeholders, including the community sector, business, academia and the general public.

This project will gather evidence into what works in regional settlement and in helping refugees and migrants achieve economic independence.

AMES Australia is able to bring to bear extensive experience and knowledge in these areas in delivering this project.

AMES Australia CEO Cath Scarth said that the resettlement of refugees in regional Australia has been an ongoing focus of the policies of successive governments.

“We at AMES Australia know well the economic and social benefits to migrants and regional host communities through our work documenting the positive impacts of the resettlement of members of the Karen community in Nhill, north-west Victoria since early 2010 and later in 2016 in Bendigo; a much larger regional setting,” Ms Scarth said.

“Currently, there are many regional areas suffering a shortage of workers in industries that have traditionally sustained these areas economically. And with new visa arrangements focusing on regional resettlement, there are opportunities to sustainably settle migrants and refugees in these places,” she said.

The Try, Test and Learn (TTL) Fund supports new or innovative approaches small-scale trials that are aimed at improving workforce participation, or capacity to work, for those people at risk of long-term welfare dependence.

If appropriate and sustainable jobs, a welcoming community, family appropriate services and social participation opportunities are in place, refugees and recently arrived migrants will be attracted to and settle in regional Victoria – delivering mutual economic and social benefits to refugee families and the communities in which they settle

In this instance, Migrants and refugees will receive information about employment and housing opportunities in the two trial re-settlement areas, as well as information about education, health, and transport as well as community services for their families.

They will be able to visit the area and meet with potential employers, schools and members of the community. Participants and their families who decide to relocate may be able to access up to $8,000 to cover the costs associated with moving from Melbourne to their new community.

The Central Grampians Services Pty Ltd in the Grampians region and Sunraysia Mallee Ethnic Communities Council in the Loddon Mallee region will work with the receiving communities to ensure that there are appropriate services for participants and their families.

They will provide information to local employers and real estate agents, work with schools, community services and recently arrived migrants who have successfully settled in the area to set up supports for the new arrivals.