Public Policy Agenda

 

SSI draws on its expertise and experience to advocate for the people and communities we serve. As part of this work, we have developed a series of briefing papers to increase awareness of key issues that impact our clients and communities and contribute to policy debate. Each paper sets out concrete, achievable policy solutions to improve outcomes for people and communities experiencing vulnerability.

 

Policy brief: Regional migration and settlement: Putting down roots to revitalise regional communities in Australia

When newcomers settle and put down roots in regional communities, there are significant benefits for newcomers, the receiving community and the Australian society and economy alike. The movement of newcomers to regional areas can alleviate population decline, fill labour shortages and enrich cultural diversity.

In recent years, Australian Government policies have sought to promote migration and settlement in regional communities. While government policies have helped to increase the initial settlement of migrants and refugees in regional areas, helping newcomers and local receiving communities develop lasting ties remains a challenge. This highlights the need for a greater focus on supporting newcomers in regional areas to develop lasting connections that benefit them and the regional communities where they settle.

The policy brief Putting down roots to revitalise regional communities in Australia shines a light on policy solutions to address this issue. It is informed by SSI’s recent experience and research on refugee settlement in Armidale, NSW. It also draws insights from successful approaches used in Canada in settling and retaining newcomers outside of major cities.

 

Policy brief: Jumping through hoops: barriers to basic rights and opportunities for newcomers to Australia

The policy brief Jumping through hoops highlights policy solutions to improve access to basic rights and opportunities for newcomers to Australia.

In recent years, successive Australian Governments have introduced policies that restrict eligibility and extend waiting times for newcomers with permanent or temporary residency to access income support and essential services and to apply for citizenship.

Australia’s approach to providing basic rights and opportunities matters not only because of the impacts on the wellbeing of newcomers but also because the way that governments treat migrants and refugees underpins social cohesion. Inclusive policies provide the foundation for positive attitudes and interactions between newcomers and the broader community and nurture an overall sense of belonging, well-being and trust.

Australia’s approach to providing basic rights and opportunities to newcomers also matters as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and seek to rebuild the labour force that we need and attract newcomers. Similar countries around the world are also experiencing skill shortages and competing for talent. Australia must rebuild its reputation as a country that is welcoming and inclusive of newcomers to position itself as a destination of choice for migrants, students and temporary workers.

 

Policy brief: Unlocking Potential

The policy brief Unlocking Potential shines a light on actions needed to unlock the economic potential of migrant and refugee women. Drawing on the ‘Untapped Potential’ research, commissioned by SSI and carried out by NATSEM highlights how migrant women from low- and middle-income countries and refugee women have greater or similar levels of education to women born in Australia yet are more likely to be employed in roles below their education and experience. Many of these women have sought-after skills and experience in industries facing critical shortages, such as the health and social sectors. A more tailored and targeted policy response is needed at Federal and State/Territory levels to unlock the economic potential of migrant and refugee women.