The Select Committee on Regional Development and Decentralisation was established to inquire into best practice approaches to regional development and the potential, models and impacts of decentralisation. The Committee published an interim report on 8 December 2017.
The Refugee Council of Australia has had a longstanding focus on regional settlement of refugees and is currently undertaking research on regional mobility, including direct refugee settlement and secondary movement of refugees to regional areas. The outcome of the research will be published in 2018.
In this submission, we argue that the movement of refugees to regional areas can sustain and grow the population base, bring about economic opportunities, grow and diversify the regional economy and employment base, and create more vibrant and cohesive communities. In recent years, there has been renewed interest from federal, state and local governments in regional settlement of refugees. One of the most notable examples of this renewed interest was the introduction of the Safe Haven Enterprise Visa.
We welcome this interest, and in this submission we examine the factors that need to be considered to achieve successful settlement. Importantly, we argue that the Australian Government should consider not only the challenges faced by refugees directly resettled in regional areas (primary resettlement), but needs to offer greater and more targeted support to those who move to regional towns after living in metropolitan areas, as well as to the communities that receive and welcome these groups.
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