Youth Transition Support pilot programme funding
Location: Liverpool Exclusion
To the Honourable Christian Porter, Minister for Social Services, The Western Sydney Migrant Resource Centre (MRC) is writing to you regarding the distribution of Youth Transition Support Pilot funding provided by the Department of Social Services in NSW. We are aware that this has resulted in the recent allocation of the Youth Transition Support pilot programme, rolled out in Western Sydney (Auburn, Parramatta and Blacktown) through Community Migrant Resource Centre and South West Sydney (Canterbury, Bankstown and Fairfield) through the Lebanese Muslim Association. There was some information provided to us earlier that indicated that Liverpool may be included in the South West Sydney pilot, but is has now been confirmed to us that Liverpool has been excluded.
Given the number of new arrivals to the Liverpool LGA, coupled with consistently high youth unemployment, the Liverpool MRC finds it noteworthy that the aforementioned funding does not cover the Liverpool LGA. This is despite some of the allocated funding areas having considerably lower numbers of new arrivals and lower youth unemployment rates.
The Liverpool MRC is a community based non-profit organisation established to actively and directly empower those whose social condition renders them disadvantaged. The Liverpool MRC works with newly arrived migrants, refugees, and diverse communities by building their capacity to take part in local life in Liverpool. Supporting the community into sustainable employment has been a major objective of the organisation over many years. The Liverpool MRC contends that increasing our capacity in this area is of major importance to actively engage with communities to establish independence, integration into all aspects of life and foster self-reliance.
The Liverpool LGA is home to a diverse and vibrant culture due, in part, to its high intake of migrants predominantly from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds. In the last three (3) years, Liverpool has seen the arrival of over five thousand (5000) Humanitarian, Family and Skilled visa holders, placing it as one of the highest receivers of new migrants across NSW. New entrants to Liverpool are mainly from Arabic speaking countries (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Kuwait, and Egypt) and with a smaller number from Iran, Afghanistan, Burma, and China1.
Furthermore, Liverpool has been flagged to receive a substantial number of the Federal Government’s recently announced special humanitarian intake of twelve thousand (12,000) ‘Syrian refugees’ in the coming three (3) years, on top of the planned intakes for the Family, Skilled, and Humanitarian programs.
Liverpool exhibits comparatively high unemployment rates, at 6.9%, compared with NSW at 5.9%2. These refer to persons not in the workforce but actively looking for work. There are also those who are neither in the workforce nor actively looking for work. The ABS Census classifies these as “Not in the labour force”, which the Liverpool LGA exhibits a higher rate than the State, at 3.9% (Liverpool) and 3.5% (NSW). Anecdotally, the figure of non-participation in recently arrived communities is much higher. Whilst the Liverpool MRC notes there is no uniform experience of unemployment, there are numerous barriers specific to new migrant youth that are currently unaddressed by existing services in the Liverpool LGA. These issues are compounded by the settlement experience that new migrants and refugees negotiate including basic orientation, language acquisition, lack of familiarity with Australian workplace culture, isolation, coping with trauma and lack of local work experience and training. The majority of new migrants in the Liverpool LGA aged between 18-24 years report low English proficiency levels with most stating Nil or Poor English Language Proficiency3. Additionally, a substantial number of new migrant youth who arrived in the last three years, recorded no tertiary education or no recorded primary and secondary education4. Liverpool MRC youth consultations (2011/12) with humanitarian migrants found that 92% of participants had missed up to five (5) years of schooling, placing them well behind their Australian counterparts5. These factors contribute, to a large degree, to difficulty in securing employment, obtaining education goals and engaging in the community. This brings to light the need for ongoing intensive support for this group into employment through community engagement, education support, workplace education and work experience.
The complexity of issues that Liverpool migrant youth face are currently compounded by a lack of employment services with CALD and youth expertise. Whilst there are existing services, such as jobactive, that seek to facilitate access to employment and tertiary education, there remains a lack of service delivery that provides a comprehensive, intensive and holistic approach targeted at new arrival refugees and migrant youth. Furthermore, for many CALD youth, engagement with employment services has been on a mandatory level, in conjunction with receipt of government allowances. The Liverpool MRC has received feedback that participation in existing services of this nature does not meet the level of need exhibited in our youth community.
The Liverpool MRC has extensive experience and expertise in the specialised field of working with disadvantaged migrants and refugees. Existing activities include the provision of information on recognition of overseas qualifications, support looking for work experience and successful job clubs. The Liverpool MRC is already well placed to deliver employment programs to new migrants and refugees, having Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS) embedded in the organisation. The Liverpool MRC successfully provides the CALD community with advocacy and assistance in accessing services and providing information and referrals, assisting approximately ten thousand (10,000) clients per year. Additionally, the Liverpool MRC has the capacity to provide holistic support through existing Settlement Services Program (SSP) casework, community development programs, youth outreach to local Intensive English Centres (IEC’s), a youth homework program and complex case support (CCS). The existing services run at the Liverpool MRC leverage established and successful relationships with local Intensive English Centres (IEC’s), TAFE, youth organisations, legal services and other community organisations.
Furthermore, the Liverpool MRC has experience and expertise in successfully delivering employment support programs to the CALD community of Liverpool, including the Specialist Migrant Placement Officer Program that ended in 2005, Numerous Orientation to WorkForce programs sessions, Training programs in partnership with TAFE for over 20 years, a Job Search Program (funded by DEEWR in 2013) and an African Employment Program in partnership HARDA in 2015 (the latter two projects acquitted with 100% success rate for participants).
The Liverpool MRC respectfully requests that urgent consideration be given to the needs of Liverpool by increasing the existing capacity of the program, or by an extra allocation of funding, under the Youth Transition Support pilot programme (DSS) to provide intensive support to newly arrived migrant and refugee youth in the Liverpool LGA. The Liverpool MRC is well placed to deliver such services and support programmes to newly arrived entrants into employment, education, community engagement whilst encouraging social cohesion.
Reference: 1. Settlement Reporting Facility, DIBP, 2015. 2. ABS Census 2011. 3. Settlement Reporting Facility, DIBP, 2015. 4. Settlement Data, DSS, 2016. 5. Refugee Youth Consultation, Liverpool MRC, 2011/2012