Settling refugees in regional towns and cities has many benefits for local communities. Refugees make important social, cultural and economic contributions, such as reviving schools and countering population decline. With the population growth also comes an increased need for teachers, doctors and other services to support an expanding community.
SSI provides HSP in the Regional NSW contract region, which includes Coffs Harbour, Newcastle and Armidale. In all three areas, SSI has teams of staff on the ground, who work with refugees, humanitarian entrants and their local communities to help new arrivals to through their initial settlement. Click here to contact your local office.
A migrant is a person who makes a conscious choice to leave their country to seek a better life. They can plan their travel, take their belongings with them and say goodbye to the important people in their lives. They are free to return home at any time if things don’t work out or if they get homesick. Refugees are forced to leave their country due to war or persecution. They leave behind their homes, most or all of their belongings, and their family members and friends. They cannot return unless the situation that forced them to leave improves.
An asylum seeker is a person who has sought protection as a refugee, but whose claim for refugee status has not yet been assessed. Every refugee has at some point been an asylum seeker. Those asylum seekers who are found to be refugees are entitled to international protection and assistance. Refugees who have come to Australia by boat or plane seeking asylum are usually placed on protection visas that entitle them to different support than refugees who come to Australia as part of the offshore humanitarian program.
Refugees make important social contributions to their new communities, including offsetting ageing populations and reviving regional schools. There is also an economic benefit to resettling refugees in regional communities due to the related population growth. In the Victorian town of Nhill, for example, the net monetary gain of resettling 160 refugees over a five-year period exceeded $41 million.
The arrival of refugees will actually create jobs. The more a town or city’s population grows, the more services and businesses are required to meet its expanding needs, which leads to job creation. Refugees come from all walks of life — they’re farmers, teachers, bakers and tradespeople. They have skills and experience that can be of great value to the community.
Everyone who comes to Australia as a refugee must pass a series of rigorous health, character and security checks before being granted a visa. These are just regular people who, through no fault of their own, have been forced to leave behind their homes and everything they know in search of safety
SSI will provide settlement support to refugees. This includes airport pick-ups, short-term accommodation, health assessments, linkages to education, English and employment support providers, and orientation to the local community. Refugees are also encouraged to take part in a range of social and community engagement activities to help them integrate into the community. By supporting refugees through the early days in Australia, SSI aims to improve their social and economic participation and, ultimately, sets refugees up to live independent lives in Australia.
SSI works hand-in-hand with the community and local organisations to help refugees to settle. Continued support from the community is critical to ensuring refugees feel at home in Armidale. This support can take many forms. It might be volunteering with SSI, offering a friendly smile at the supermarket, or holding an event to welcome refugees to their new home.
At SSI, we recognise the critical role the community plays in successful settlement. Community groups who want to learn more about refugees and extend a gesture of welcome, such as a picnic or an excursion to a favourite local site, are encouraged. To ensure these activities are meaningful and suitable for newcomers, please check-in with SSI during the planning phase.
Community members are also encouraged to get involved with refugee resettlement is by volunteering with SSI. Our volunteers:
- Provide social support
- Help with English practice
- Assist with events and excursions
- Provide employment mentoring
- Create social connections
- And much more!
To get involved, visit: www.ssi.org.au/support-ssi/volunteer