Eligible refugees will soon be making their way to regional Queensland.
It’s part of the Federal Government’s Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) scheme, agreed to by the Queensland Government late in March.
SHEV is open to those who have arrived in Australia “illegally” but who qualify for protection and “have demonstrated an intention to work and or study in Australia”.
It is a path to permanent residency, and many see it as a win-win for regional communities who are desperate for workers.
But the Federation of Diverse Cultural Communities in Queensland (FDCCQ) says more can still be done to help get the SHEV scheme off the ground.
President of FDCCQ, Agnes Whiten says without the financial support base, it will all be for nothing.
“FDCCQ is willing and able to support this initiative and do much more, but we need funding to do so,” Ms Whiten explains.
“Our aim is to encourage migrants and refugees to settle in the regions where their skills can be utilised.”
Currently there are settlement services for migrants and refugees in Queensland, but they are concentrated mainly in the South East corner of the state and these organisations need support in enhancing what they offer.
They say there’s a need to connect migrants with each other and the communities that they live in.
“The scheme and it’s success is vital to Queensland’s future but employment opportunities and local support will be crucial,” continues Ms Whiten.
“Relocating these people with the help of new technology will ensure a smooth transition both culturally and economically.”
A SHEV holder can also apply for a prescribed permanent or temporary onshore substantive visa (except a permanent Protection visa) if, for at least 42 months of the 5 years of the SHEV, they:
• were employed in regional Australia and did not receive any social security benefits;
• were enrolled in full time study in regional Australia;
• a combination of the above
The FDCCQ say the new scheme is a step in the right direction to facilitate greater community engagement, regional business engagement and business to business opportunities.
It’s a start to help unite culturally and linguistically diverse communities as never before.
“Our organisation was started because we are passionate about helping migrants to settle and to feel they belong in regional Queensland,” Ms Whiten says.
“We are now a culturally diverse society; we have embraced multiculturalism so we can’t send 25% of Australians who come from a different background back home.”