The Refugee Council of Australia’s made a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Migration’s inquiry into Migration, Pathway to Nation Building. Australia has welcomed 950,000 refugees and humanitarian entrants since federation. These people have made a substantial contribution to Australia’s culture, identity, economy and society. However, the Humanitarian Program has fallen to its lowest level in 45 years, when in 2020-21 just 5,749 visas were granted. This inquiry provides an opportunity for the Australian Government to consider how it can continue to recognise and enhance the contributions of refugees and humanitarian entrants, including by fulling the Labor Government’s commitments to increase the program to 27,000 places per year, with 5,000 additional places set aside for community sponsorship.1
We outline successful ways to facilitate refugee employment transitions and economic participation, including:
- Individual case management and referral services, particularly specialist services that have expertise in delivering both settlement and employment support;
- Mentoring programs with an employment focus;
- Information and training on Australian work culture and systems;
- Work experience programs;
- Industry-related training targeting migrant and refugee communities;
- Services providing career advice, planning and job search support;
- Social enterprise and initiatives supporting small business development;
- Services advocating and liaising directly with employers;
- Services providing support with skills and qualification recognition, including bridging courses that lead to industry-recognised qualifications or licencing;
- English language classes with an employment focus; and
- Post-employment follow-up and support.
Finally, we outline the important role that refugee communities play in settlement support for newly arrived communities and recommend greater involvement of refugee communities in settlement service design and delivery.