The Settlement Council of Australia today released its report on The Effects of Discrimination on Refugee and Migrant Housing Needs, pointing to systemic discrimination against refugees and other migrants in the private housing market.
“Many Australians face barriers to private rentals – for example when their income is from government payments or they are in low paid jobs, if they are sole parents, if they have a large family, or if someone in the household has a disability. Many migrants will experience one or more of these factors, with the added factor of racism.
“This report presents evidence of direct discrimination by real estate agents towards refugees and other migrants.”
Tammy Wolffs said, “While organisations offering settlement services for new residents do an amazing job of building relationships with real estate agents and other organisations in their areas to secure housing for their clients, in some cases there is just no suitable accommodation. For example, in many cultures, it is the practice to have large families or for generations to live together and there are not enough larger – and affordable – houses for these families.
“Affordable and appropriate housing is essential if refugees and other new migrants are to settle well into Australian life. More could be done to improve access to government and other social housing and to better help housing providers and the broader community to understand, welcome and house our newer members of the Australian community.”
National Settlement Services Outcomes Standards
Housing is one of the nine foundations identified in the National Settlement Services Outcomes Standards (NSSOS). This standard is achieved when appropriate, affordable and long term housing is available and close to both social and community supports and to available employment.
The standard recognises that achieving this standard is needed to meet the other NSSOS. And it recognises that newly arrived communities are at high risk of homelessness and exploitation in the rental market.
Refugees and migrants often struggle to find appropriate housing. This can be because there are long waiting lists for public and social housing while, at the same time, there is a shortage of affordable and appropriate private housing stock. Even when housing is available, new migrants can face discrimination that is based on cultural racism and a lack of understanding of the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) families. This bias can add to other forms of discrimination, for example, where migrants have large families, have low incomes and/or rely on Centrelink benefits.
Housing is essential if people from refugee and migrant backgrounds are to settle successfully. This paper, produced by SCoA, points to research that explores the barriers to accessing housing and their effects on refugees and migrants and shows that Australia is not meeting the standard.
The paper indicates that Australia, as a host country, is not meeting its obligation to make sure that appropriate and affordable housing is available to new refugees and other migrants.