Eligibility for Settlement Services

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We offer a range of settlement services aimed at assisting humanitarian entrants and eligible migrants within the initial period of settlement. These services focus on building self-reliance, developing English language skills and fostering connections with mainstream services as soon as possible after arrival in Australia.

Who is eligible for settlement services?

Eligibility to access our settlement services depends on visa class and length of residency in Australia.

To be eligible, entrants need to be permanent residents who arrived within the last five years as:

  • humanitarian entrants
  • family stream migrants with low English proficiency
  • dependants of skilled migrants located in rural or regional areas, with low English proficiency.

Detailed information on eligibility for specific settlement programs and services is provided below. Humanitarian entrants are able to access more than one settlement service simultaneously as long as there is no duplication of service type.

Adult Migrant English Program

The Adult Migrant English Programme (AMEP) is available to eligible migrants from the humanitarian, family and skilled visa streams. Free English language courses are available to eligible migrants who do not have functional English.

All AMEP clients have access to up to 510 hours of English language courses in their first five years of settlement in Australia.

Eligible migrants must register for AMEP English courses within six months of the date their visa commences and start English classes within one year.

Eligible migrants may also be eligible for additional hours of English language tuition:

  • if they have special needs due to difficult pre-migration experiences, for example torture and trauma, or limited schooling
  • to gain familiarity with Australian workplace culture and practices through the AMEP Settlement Language Pathways to Employment and Training program.

More information about the AMEP is available on the Department of Industry website.
See: Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP)

Settlement Grants Program

The aim of the Settlement Grants Program (SGP) is to deliver services that help eligible clients become self-reliant and involved in Australian society. To ensure SGP funding is directed to those most in need, services are limited to permanent residents who have arrived in Australia in the last five years as:

  • humanitarian entrants
  • family stream migrants with low English proficiency
  • dependants of skilled migrants in rural and regional areas with low English proficiency.

Also included in the target group are:

  • Selected temporary residents (prospective marriage, provisional spouse, provisional partner, provisional interdependency visa holders and their dependants) in rural and regional areas who have arrived in the last five years and who have low English proficiency.
  • Newly arrived communities that require assistance to develop their ability to organise, plan and advocate for services to meet their own needs and are still receiving significant numbers of new arrivals.

Other provisional or temporary visa holders who are not eligible for SGP services include:

  • Temporary entrants, such as skilled entrants or students who enter Australia for a specific and time-limited purpose and are expected to be supported by their sponsors or make their own provision for employment, accommodation, access to health and other services while they are temporarily in Australia.

More information about the settlement services provided through the SGP is available on our website.
See: Fact Sheet 92 – Settlement Grants Program

Details of SGP projects currently funded throughout Australia is available on our website.
See: Settlement Grants Program

Details about settlement service providers are also available through an interactive map.
See: Settlement Services Locator

Humanitarian Settlement Services program

The Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS) program provides early practical support to humanitarian entrants on arrival and throughout their initial settlement period. The HSS program endeavours to strengthen the ability of humanitarian entrants to participate in the economic and social life of Australia and to equip individuals with the skills and knowledge to independently access services beyond the initial settlement period.

HSS providers work with clients to assess and identify their needs and deliver a tailored package of services to meet those needs. Services under the program are generally provided for the first six to 12 months after a client's arrival.

Clients holding the following visas are eligible for HSS support based on their individual needs:

  • Refugee category (subclass 200, 201, 203 and 204) visas
  • Global Special Humanitarian (subclass 202) visa.

From 30 August 2013, two groups of asylum seekers who are granted Protection visas will no longer be eligible for services under the HSS program. These groups are:

  • Illegal Maritime Arrivals who lived in the community on a Bridging visa E or who resided in community detention, aside from unaccompanied minors
  • other asylum seekers who lived in the community, including in community detention.

All unaccompanied humanitarian minors are exempt from this change. Most people granted protection in an Immigration Detention Facility also remain eligible for services under the HSS program.

More information about settlement assistance for refugees and humanitarian entrants on arrival in Australia under the HSS program is available.
See: Fact Sheet 66 – Humanitarian Settlement Services Program

Complex Case Support

Complex Case Support (CCS) delivers specialised and intensive case management services to humanitarian entrants with exceptional needs. CCS is specifically targeted at supporting clients whose needs extend beyond the scope of other settlement services, such as the HSS and the SGP.

CCS has three main client groups:

  • Refugee category (subclass 200, 201, 203 and 204) visas
  • Global Special Humanitarian (subclass 202) visa
  • Protection (subclass 866) visa and persons who hold or have held a temporary protection visa.

Clients are eligible for services within five years of their arrival in Australia. Flexibility may be shown to this timeframe in exceptional circumstances.

More information about CCS is available on our website.
See: Complex Case Support

Free Translating and Interpreting Services

The Department of Social Services offers free translating and interpreting services to assist people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to settle and participate in the Australian community.

Free Interpreting Service

The Free Interpreting Service is delivered through the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National).

The service is for eligible organisations to communicate with Australian citizens or permanent residents who do not speak English. To access the free interpreting service the below listed eligible groups and individuals apply through TIS National.

  • Private medical practitioners (defined as general practitioners and medical specialists) providing Medicare-rebateable services and their reception staff to arrange appointments and provide results of medical test.
  • Incorporated, not-for-profit, non-government, community-based organisations for case work and emergency services where the organisation does not receive funding to provide these services.
    Note: Organisations that require language services (such as interpreting) and receive substantial government funding should incorporate the cost of these services into their application for funding.
  • Members of Parliament for constituency purposes.
  • Local government authorities to communicate with non-English speaking Australian citizens and permanent residents on issues such as rates, garbage collection and urban services.
  • Trade unions to respond to members' enquiries or requests.
  • Pharmacies, for the purpose of dispensing Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme medications.

A list of approved medical practitioners is available on the Medical Board of Australia’s website.
See: Medical specialties and specialty fields

Further information on the Free Interpreting Services including eligibility for the service is available on the department's website.
See: Free Interpreting Services

Real Estate Agencies Pilot

In 2013, the Real Estate Agencies Pilot was expanded to include more eligible areas of new settlement. The pilot provides real estate agents with free phone interpreting to help them communicate with non-English speaking, newly arrived permanent residents and humanitarian entrants on a range of private residential property matters. Any licensed real estate agency operating in one of the eligible areas of new settlement are now able to register with TIS National for free phone interpreting services until 30 June 2015.

Eligible areas of new settlement are found across Australia in all capital cities, major regional cities and some rural localities where newly arrived permanent residents and particularly humanitarian entrants are settling.

Further information on the Real Estate Agencies Pilot, free interpreting services and eligibility for these services is available on our website.
See: Free interpreting for real estate agencies

Free Translating Service

The Free Translating Service allows permanent residents, some temporary/provisional residents and Australian citizens to have key personal documents translated into English, within the first two years of arriving to settle permanently in Australia.

The service is provided to enable permanent settlers to participate in the community by having personal documents, such as drivers' licences, birth certificates and tertiary certificates, translated into English during their initial two year settlement period in Australia.

To access the service eligible individuals must lodge their documents at an Adult Migrant English Programme (AMEP) centre.

Detailed information on the Free Translating Service, including eligibility criteria is available on our website.
See: Free Translating Service

Last Reviewed April 2014.

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