This report presents the key findings and policy implications of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project Resettling Visible Migrants and Refugees in Rural and Regional Australia, conducted by staff in the School of Social and Political Sciences at The University of Melbourne between February 2009 and May 2013, in collaboration with industry partners, the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) and the Victorian Government Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship (OMAC).
The project explored the interrelated social, economic and political factors that drive and shape the regional and rural settlement experiences of recently arrived, visible migrants and refugees: their sense of identity and belonging; their patterns and pathways of employment; the ways in which local communities respond and adapt to new arrivals; and the effectiveness of government resettlement and other policies at federal, state and local levels. Extending established findings in the Australian and international literature on the regional settlement of migrant and refugee, the project considered settlement factors which have previously been underexplored:
• the perspectives of both migrants and refugees;
• the significance of pre-arrival experiences;
• local planning and coordination arrangements, including the often overlooked role of local government;
• the interface between federal, state and local government to facilitate settlement;
• support services, including funded activities and the role played by NGOs and volunteers;
• employment experiences and pathways;
• retention and attraction of former migrants and refugees in rural and regional sites; and
• the interrelationship of visibility, identity and belonging.
Drawing on primary research and an extensive national and international literature and policy review conducted for the project, this report provides a multi-scalar snapshot of regional settlement in Australia over a three year period, with an empirical focus on the experiences of settlement in six regional and rural sites and two metropolitan locations in Victoria.