Settling Humanitarian Entrants in New South Wales -  Services to permanent residents who come to New South Wales through the humanitarian migration scheme

Better assistance needed for humanitarian entrants

Support for humanitarian entrants living in New South Wales is poorly coordinated.  Humanitarian entrants in New South Wales are doing less well than in other states on the key indicators of health, housing and employment.

Unlike some States, New South Wales does not have a single point of contact that humanitarian entrants can go to assist them with settling in a new country.

“Many humanitarian entrants arrive with little understanding of our social norms and systems of Government; they need coordinated support, sometimes for a number of years”, said Mr Achterstraat.

“Some agencies such as the Department of Education and Communities and NSW Health have developed good approaches to support humanitarian entrants. What is lacking is an overall framework to bring all this good work together”, he added.

“As the lead agency in New South Wales multicultural affairs, the Community Relations Commission must be the ‘go to place’ for all humanitarian issues. They must drive accountability and publically report on how well humanitarian entrants are settling in”, said Mr Achterstraat.

New South Wales also needs to work better with the Commonwealth Government. Currently, New South Wales does not provide any information to the Commonwealth on where humanitarian entrants are best suited to settle. For example, where there are employment possibilities, affordable housing, a supportive environment and appropriate services.

A recent survey showed that 19 per cent of New South Wales humanitarian entrants reported poor physical health, and 46 per cent reported difficulty in finding a place to live.

“Of the 132,000 people who have come to Australia through the Humanitarian Program in the last ten years, nearly a quarter settled in New South Wales”, said Mr Achterstraat.

“My report focuses on humanitarian entrants granted permanent residency to settle in Australia while living overseas, not people who apply for protection after they arrive in Australia such as irregular maritime arrivals”, Mr Achterstraat explained.

There is a common but mistaken belief that the Commonwealth has sole responsibility for humanitarian entrants. In fact from initial settlement, humanitarian entrants are reliant upon many services provided by New South Wales Government agencies.

“New South Wales has responsibilities for humanitarian entrants and it must carry them out”, said Mr Achterstraat.

Further information

Barry Underwood, Executive Officer, on 9275 7220 or 0403 073 664; email: