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Jobs Summit: Let’s build on the potential of humanitarian migration

Expanding opportunities for Australian employers to recruit skilled refugees from overseas and creating a visa pathway for bridging visa holders filling important job vacancies are among options the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) is proposing to delegates at next week’s Jobs and Skills Summit.

RCOA is putting forward eight suggestions to Jobs and Skills summit delegates on how the potential of humanitarian migration could be increased as they consider how to address challenges in the national employment market.

RCOA chief executive officer Paul Power said that, while the objective of the Refugee and Humanitarian Program is to provide safety for people in need of protection, research clearly shows that humanitarian entrants made significant long-term contributions to the Australian economy.
“People arriving under the offshore refugee program are on average 15 years younger than the national population and are significantly more likely to remain in Australia in the long-term than other migrants,” Mr Power said.

“This creates great longer-term opportunities for the nation – even more so if we can improve early entry into the labour market and invest in the many budding entrepreneurs among humanitarian entrants.

“Australian Bureau of Statistics figures tell us that, after five years in Australia, humanitarian entrants are more likely to be earning an income from their own business than other migrants and Australian-born people. Efforts to support refugee and humanitarian entrants to set up businesses earlier after their arrival in Australia can be effective in expanding employment and business opportunities.”

Mr Power said the Skilled Refugee Labour Mobility Agreement Pilot established by the previous government was a constructive response to Australia’s skills shortage, enabling Australian employers to recruit refugees with skills directly from overseas to fill vacancies in critically important fields.

“This innovative pilot matches refugees whose skills are not being used in countries of asylum with Australian employers who need those skills. As Talent Beyond Boundaries, which coordinates the pilot, has more than 40,000 refugees listed on its global skills register, there is plenty of scope to expand this pilot well beyond the 200 places currently available.

“Another opportunity available is to maximise the potential of the 107,000 bridging visa holders who have sought asylum and are currently in Australia.

“People in this situation have struggled throughout the COVID pandemic without access a national financial safety net and many of those with work rights are filling vital jobs across Australia.
“Not only is there a pressing need to speed up the processing and review of onshore protection visa applications but there is also the opportunity to provide an alternative visa pathway for people who are refused protection but are making an important economic contribution.”

For more on the potential of humanitarian migration to increase opportunities in Australia, visit:

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