Humanitarian Settlement in Regional Australia
While the majority of humanitarian settlement occurs in metropolitan areas, many humanitarian entrants have successfully settled in regional communities or have subsequently moved to regional locations. Over the last several years a number of humanitarian entrants have been directly settled in regional locations, including Shepparton, Launceston, Albury, Coffs Harbour, Toowoomba, Townsville and Mount Gambier.
The settlement of humanitarian entrants in regional locations can have benefits for both humanitarian entrants and receiving communities, for example:
- maintaining and building capacity in regional areas
- providing employment opportunities for humanitarian entrants while increasing support for local employers
- increasing cultural diversity and vitality.
When looking at opportunities to settle humanitarian entrants in regional areas, a number of key factors are taken into consideration, including the existence of suitable accommodation, employment opportunities, health services and opportunities for new arrivals to connect with and feel safe in a new home with a welcoming community. Other important factors in regional towns include sufficient infrastructure and the availability of settlement, mainstream and community services to support new arrivals.
In settling humanitarian entrants, it is necessary to ensure the best assistance possible is provided to each person. Some people, for example, experience torture or trauma before arriving in Australia and therefore need to be settled initially in larger cities where they can access suitable counselling and other services. Others have existing 'links' in Australia, such as family, friends or their proposer and are therefore settled near their links so that they can receive valuable social and settlement support.
To help new arrivals settle in the community, a range of settlement services are available to clients in regional locations including: the Humanitarian Settlement Program (HSP); the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP); the Free Translating Service and the Free Interpreting Service; and the Settlement grants. Humanitarian entrants are able to access more than one settlement service simultaneously as long as there is no duplication of service type.