Refugee Week: Benefits of Migrants and Refugees

Refugee Week will be celebrated from Sunday 17 June to Saturday 23 June 2018. #WithRefugees is the theme for Refugee Week 2018 in Australia. Looking to the positive contribution made by migrants and refugees and their settlement in the Goulburn Valley, the Shepparton Interfaith Network in collaboration with the Adult Migrant Education Program at GOTAFE – will present a seminar on Tuesday 19 June 2018 at the Harder Auditorium.


Much evidence is emerging – from government instrumentalities such as Treasury and the Immigration Department that immigration is a net benefit to Australia. All those who come here create wealth. Migrants move quickly to become small businesses, and Refugees make their contribution, more so in the next generation.

There are many challenges to migration, both voluntary and forced: for some, it is leaving home and country; others flee home and country. All are on journeys to seek safety, home and hearth. Others – in involuntary migration – are living in a refugee camp or detention centre. Both groups have their particular issues in being settled into a new country.

Strangers in a strange land: waves of settlement have increased the population and the productivity of the Goulburn Valley. We know the first and second wave of settlers prior to World War II brought many skills with them; farming techniques from home, animal husbandry and water conservation. All these are ways of increase of productivity and prosperity.

The Refugee Convention:

The 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol (commonly known as the Refugee Convention), to which Australia is a signatory, defines a refugee as:

Any person who owing to a well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his/her nationality and is unable, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country.

The important parts of this definition are:

  • The person has to be outside their country of origin
  • The reason for their flight has to be a fear of persecution
  • This fear of persecution has to be well founded (i.e. they must have experienced it or be likely to experience it if they return)
  • The persecution has to result from one or more of the five grounds listed in the definition
  • They have to be unwilling or unable to seek the protection of their country

The Refugee Convention definition is used by the Australian Government to determine whether our country has protection obligations towards asylum seekers. If an asylum seeker is found to be a refugee, Australia is obliged under international law to offer protection and to ensure that the person is not sent back unwillingly to their country of origin.



Challenging common perceptions that migrants can be a drain on the national economy

Shaping a Nation: Population growth and immigration over time, (2018)

Key findings of this recent research by The Treasury and Department of Home Affairs are:

Migration and economic conditions have moved together.

There is considerable evidence pointing to the role of migrants in sustaining or fostering strong economic growth over the longer term. In fact, the report suggests that migration helped the economy successfully weather the Global Financial Crisis and the slow global growth and poor economic conditions that followed.

Migrants have supply-side impacts on GDP

Migrants can affect the supply side of the economy through the 3Ps – population, participation, and productivity.

  • Migrants increase the population
  • – Migrants currently account for just over half of Australia’s population growth.
  • Migrants have helped improve Australia’s labour force participation rate
  • – Without the contribution from migrants, all else being equal, Australia’s participation rate would be lower than at present. Migrants to Australia are younger on average than the resident population. Younger age groups tend to have higher participation rates than older age groups, and, in this way, migration can improve Australia’s labour force participation rate.
  • – In the absence of migrants, all else being equal, the participation rate, instead of increasing 1.4 percentage points over the period to 2016, would have fallen 2.1 percentage points relative to 2000.
  • Migration increases productivity
  • – Productivity is the most important mechanism for sustainable income growth.
  • – The report supports the IMF finding “that highly skilled migration increases productivity per worker through innovation and diversity of skills, and low and medium skilled migration complements the skills of native-born workers”.



From the Regional Australia Institute:

A handful of rural towns across Australia have found a solution to population decline and workforce shortages – and now the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) says it’s time the rest of the country gets on board.

RAI CEO Jack Archer says regional migration projects scattered across Australia are paying huge dividends for the towns involved, with some small towns increasing their population by up to 15 per cent.

“In many cases, these migration strategies have been locally-led, but carried out in isolation. Now we need to connect the dots and help other rural towns capitalise on the opportunities migrant settlement programs can deliver,” Mr Archer said.

This week at Parliament House in Canberra, the RAI hosted a More Migrants for Small Towns event to showcase the success of towns including Nhill, Pyramid Hill, Mingoola, Biloela, Dalwallinu, Hamilton, Rupanyup, and Nobby.

On 24 February 2018, the Treasury told the following:

Migrants are making Australia wealthy and not living on welfare or stealing the jobs of local workers, a new study has found.

The annual ­permanent ­intake of migrants is forecast to add up to one percentage point to GDP growth each year for 30 years, while generating a collective tax contribution of almost $7 billion, according to the report by Treasury and the Department of Home Affairs.

The report makes the case for a big Australia and refutes the idea that migrants were either taking jobs from Australians or had become a welfare burden.

Australia’s Humanitarian Program

The Humanitarian Program comprises the offshore resettlement (for people outside Australia) and onshore protection (for people inside Australia) components. The Program aims to:

  • provide permanent resettlement to those most in need, who are in desperate situations overseas, including in refugee camps and protracted refugee situations
  • reunite refugees and people who are in refugee-like situations overseas with their family in Australia
  • be flexible and responsive to changing global resettlement needs and emerging humanitarian situations to ensure Australia’s approach remains comprehensive and high-quality
  • use resettlement strategically to help stabilise refugee populations, reduce the prospect of irregular movement from source countries and countries of first asylum, and support broader international protection
  • meet Australia’s international protection obligations.

Each year the Government sets the number of visas that may be granted under the Program. In recent years, the Australian Government provided an additional 12,000 Humanitarian Program places for people displaced by conflict in Syria and Iraq.

The 2017-18 Program has 16,250 places (including up to 1,000 places for the new Community Support Program). The Program will increase to 18,750 places in 2018-19.

Event Details

Program: Benefits of Refugees and Migrants to Australia
Date: Tuesday 19 June 2018
Time: 11am-12:30pm
Location: GOTAFE Harder Auditorium, Fryer St, Shepparton
Cost: FREE
More information: Chris Parnell, 5821 3483




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