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Media Release: Safe haven visas offer hope to asylum seekers

3 June 20150 comments

_DSC6616 (2)Leading migrant and refugee settlement agency AMES has welcomed the implementation of Australia’s new Safe Haven Enterprise Visa scheme.

The five-year visas, introduced last year, will be an option for refugees prepared to work or study outside of popular cities.

New South Wales will be the first state to implement the scheme.

There are 32,000 asylum seekers in Australia eligible for refugee assessment and waiting for final determination, most of whom are living in communities on bridging visas.

Almost 10,000 of these live in Victoria.

AMES CEO Cath Scarth said that finding employment was the single most important factor in successful settlement.

“All the evidence shows that getting and keeping a job is the most critical thing in having successful settlement outcomes. And economic participation also had benefits in terms of community building and social cohesion,” Ms Scarth said.

She pointed to recent research conducted on a regional refugee settlement initiative carried out at Nhill, in western Victoria.

The research, carried out by AMES and Deloitte Access Economics showed the settlement of Karen-Burmese refugees in the town had added seventy jobs and more than $40 million to the local economy.

“The study also identified significant social outcomes stemming from the resettlement program, including: the arrest of population decline; revitalised local services and increased government funding; and, an increase in social capital across both communities,” Ms Scarth said.

“It found the necessary factors in the success of the Karen resettlement included: the availability of employment and accommodation; strong leadership in the host community; a welcoming host community; support for the new families; management of the degree and complexity of ‘cultural adjustment’ on both sides; and, settlers prepared to adapt to a new environment,” she said

“What this research shows us is that there is precedence for the successful settlement of refugees or asylum seekers in regional Australia,” Ms Scarth said. 

About AMES

AMES is the leading provider of humanitarian settlement, education, training and employment services to refugees, asylum seekers and newly arrived migrants in Victoria.

A statutory authority of the Victorian Government, the organisation manages a range of federal and state government contracts including Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS), the Adult Migrant English program (AMEP) General Services and Distance Learning programs; and Jobactive employment services (JSA).

For images, interviews and more information please contact AMES Media Advisor, Laurie Nowell at or  9938 4031 or 0498 196 500.