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31 Jul 2023

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New funding offers long-awaited relief for settlement providers

New funding announced by the Federal Government yesterday will provide vital support for organisations working on the frontline to support refugees and migrants to successfully settle in Australia, according to the non-profit organisation, Settlement Services International (SSI).

SSI, which provides human services to around 50,000 people a year, welcomed $2.6 million in additional funding for providers of the Settlement Engagement and Transition Support (SETS) program, announced by Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Minister Andrew Giles today.

SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis said this would ease the immense pressure facing settlement service organisations, driven by a combination of inadequate historic indexation of funding, higher wages, and rising costs due to inflation.

“With Australia’s migration and humanitarian programs expanding, the country is set to welcome approximately one million people over the next five years. Settlement services are fundamental to this process and must be adequately resourced and supported,” she said.

“Better resourcing of settlement providers means they can better support the communities they serve, so we welcome this as an investment in our sector, but also in the future prosperity of migrants and refugees who come to Australia to build new lives.”

The new funding would address pressures on the wages of workers delivering the SETS program, which Ms Roumeliotis said would provide welcome relief to the sector, particularly for smaller community-based organisations.

“I’ve been in touch with a number of regional settlement organisations that are struggling to keep the doors open. Due to rising costs, many providers are at imminent risk of closure or unable to meet the priority needs in their communities,” she said.

“Acute funding pressures threaten to undermine the entire settlement system on which our country relies, so we commend the government on providing additional support for this vital sector.”

Ms Roumeliotis said there were opportunities to further alleviate the pressure on SETS providers, including merging the Client Services and Community Capacity Building components to create greater efficiencies.

“The current arrangement includes managing two separate contracts, each of which requires separate invoicing and reporting for each delivery partner. For service providers, merging these components would mean less time spent on reporting and more time on service delivery.

“Alleviating this administrative burden would be particularly beneficial for smaller organisations with limited resources, along with providers in regional settlement locations, where greater time and resources are needed to build broader community understanding of refugee communities.”

Ms Roumeliotis said she looked forward to continuing to work with the government to protect the vital role that settlement providers play in Australia’s migration system.

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