Settlement Services International (SSI) has welcomed Labor’s Multicultural Statement, launched in Canberra today, and hopes it will inspire a broader public discussion on multiculturalism and migration policy, with a focus on fairness, inclusion and opportunity.
SSI’s vision is to achieve a society that values the diversity of its people and actively provides support to ensure meaningful social and economic participation and to assist individuals and families to reach their potential.
It therefore welcomes any opportunity to work with parliamentary representatives, state or federal, in government, opposition or on cross benches, to improve outcomes for its clients and their communities.
With Australia’s borders being closed for the foreseeable future, SSI believes the current global pandemic allows Australia the opportunity to
• reset its public narrative and policy settings on multiculturalism and migration
• strike the right balance with permanent migration and
• have an educated conversation about the social and economic benefits of temporary migration and fairer pathways to permanency and citizenship.
SSI was heartened that Labor’s Multicultural Statement acknowledges that migrants and refugees bring skills, experiences and knowledge when they arrive in Australia.
It was also heartened by the Hon. Anthony Albanese comment that, "We can show the world that by respecting each other we all benefit, we are all enriched by multiculturalism. That’s why settlement services across the country are so important."
The invaluable economic contribution of migrants and refugees has been well documented by leading economists.
SSI’s own experience and research shows an exceptional proportion of new arrivals into Australia, when provided with proper guidance and mentoring from organisations such as SSI, go on to start successful business ventures of their own.
CEO Violet Roumeliotis said in order to build the capacity of the settlement services sector, SSI recommended:
• a fund be established to support migrant small business start-ups, including access to advice and assistance
• a transformation fund be established to support the settlement services sector to build digital and governance capacity and maximise the sector’s impact and outcomes in a COVID-19 impacted economy
• funding for domestic and family violence positions in larger multicultural organisations, such as migrant resource centres, supported by a state-wide organisation to ensure appropriate clinical governance and ongoing skills development.