FECCA – the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia – have produced New and Emerging Communities in Australia – Enhancing Capacity for Advocacy.
This report seeks to outline how individuals and organisations from Australia’s new and emerging communities represent their interests to government, business and the broader community. The report provides guidance to policy makers, government and other stakeholders on how and where to engage with new and emerging communities. It also provides recommendations for improving the capacity of new and emerging communities in advocating to government and other stakeholders.
What are new and emerging communities?
Australia’s history of migration involves great ethnic, cultural, national, linguistic, political and social diversity. Australia’s diversity continues to increase as geo-political conditions, education and employment opportunities attract new migrant communities to Australia. Australia has a higher proportion of overseas-born people (26 per cent) than the US, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. The Australian population includes people born in close to 200 different countries.
The term, ‘new and emerging’, identifies communities of migrants and refugees that have recently arrived in Australia and that may need additional support in the settlement process. The main identifiers of a new and emerging community (NEC) are:
- a lack of established family networks, support systems, community structures and resources
- unfamiliarity with mainstream services and challenges in accessing these services.
New and Emerging Communities may have other identifiers including:
- limited English language proficiency
- high numbers of refugees
- low levels of formal education
- financial vulnerabilities
- difficulty in finding long-term and sustainable employment.
Some new and emerging communities, particularly those predominated by individuals from a refugee background, may have most or all the identifiers or vulnerabilities.
Some other migrant communities in Australia have grown very rapidly. These communities may also be considered as ‘new and emerging’ because of limited family networks and community structures, for example South Asian communities, or because of limited English proficiency, for example migrants from Mainland China. There may be especially vulnerable individuals within these communities such as women, partner visa holders or older persons.
‘[This ‘new and emerging’ community ] has many fragmentations depending on the visa you come on, the city you are from, ethnic minority … the origins of those coming are very different, and so is the settlement process.’
Throughout history, the settlement experience of an individual, family and community has been influenced by a range of situational factors impacting the migration experience including:
- the reason for leaving place of origin
- the nature of the migration journey
- the support received on arrival.
Subsequent generations of migrants to Australia from the same country of origin, ethnic background or language group may have distinct migration and settlement experiences because of differing situational factors and may be considered new and emerging communities despite the presence of the same national, ethnic or linguistic community that settled in previous decades.
Australia has a history of migrants coming from Afghanistan dating back to the 1700s. While there are well established Afghan communities across Australia, the specificities of identity and migration experience of more recent arrivals from Afghanistan mean many of these newer communities are considered New and Emerging Communities.
The relevance of advocacy
The social and economic disadvantage that many migrant and refugee communities face—especially those who are recently arrived—means it is important they have strong and effective advocates. Advocacy allows individuals and communities to articulate priorities, needs and aspirations to stakeholders. Advocates can help those who make decisions about policies and service provision better understand the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities with the goal of improving outcomes for those individuals and communities.
Strong advocates can also ensure that their communities are strong and vibrant.
This is important because the issues and challenges faced by New and Emerging Communities can be different to the needs of the broader community and different to previous generations of migrants. Advocacy ensures that vulnerable individuals and communities can:
- Have their voices heard on issues that impact their lives
- Communicate the barriers they face in accessing services and other social, economic and civic opportunities
- Receive information relevant to them and in an understandable and accessible format
- Defend and safeguard the rights of vulnerable members of New and Emerging Communities
- Have their views and wishes genuinely considered when decisions are being made about their lives.
The issues facing newcomers to Australia from new and emerging communities include barriers accessing government services, accessing information, English language proficiency, securing employment, education, and housing especially during the settlement period.
Beyond settlement, New and Emerging Communities want their needs and aspirations to be recognised in Australia’s economic policies (New and Emerging Communities are overrepresented among small business owners); civic participation and the political process (CALD Australians are underrepresented in Australia’s politics, bureaucracies and media); and social policies (for example racism and multiculturalism). ‘[Our community organisation] can be a bridge as we know the people, we know the issues.’
Download the FECCA Report, New and Emerging Communities in Australia – Enhancing Capacity for Advocacy