Government push for more refugees in regional Australia

Stock image.
Stock image.

HALF the refugees accepted into Australia will live in regional areas by 2022, the federal government hopes.

Immigration Minister David Coleman has outlined the new goal on Friday, coupled with a range of measures to steer refugees outside of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

A government report into refugee resettlement shows the number of people on humanitarian visas moving to regional Australia has increased each year.

More than 40 per cent of refugees are expected to move into the regions this year.

The government will support refugees to become financially independent, learn English and to feel at home.

“We want to ensure all refugees and humanitarian entrants have the best possible opportunity to settle into Australian life, gain employment and contribute to their new communities,” Mr Coleman said.

The federal government has also recently increased its regional migration program intake from 23,000 to 25,000.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says regional abattoirs and industry rely on migrant workers.

“You talk to the local farmers – they can’t get their beef processed or their lamb processed without that local workforce of migrant workers,” he told reporters in Brisbane.

Mr Dutton said West Australian Premier Mark McGowan had contacted the Morrison government outlining the state’s desire for more migrant workers.

As of last week, Perth and the Gold Coast are no longer classified as major cities so they can be a regional destination for both migrants and refugees.

While the Refugee Council of Australia says it’s pleased the government undertook the review which will have positive outcomes, it believes the regional settlement target is only a slight increase.

“The government’s current goal is to resettle 40 per cent of refugees in regional areas. Increasing this to 50 per cent would involve a relatively modest number of people in areas which together cover most of the country,” council chief executive Paul Power said.

The new measures include:

* A Commonwealth coordinator-general for migrant services in the Department of Home Affairs.

* Trial of a skilled refugees visa program.

* New employment strategies.

* Helping connect refugees with community groups.

* Trialling an English language learning program – with classes outside of regular institutions – from next July.

– AAP