SURPLUS TO REQUIREMENTS? LOCAL INCLUSION OF HUMANITARIAN MIGRANTS IN AUSTRALIA
Refugee Research Blog Editor/
John Van Kooy
This research project will develop a framework for understanding ‘inclusion’ factors for humanitarian migrants in local settings. Neoliberal immigration regimes are typically designed according to demographic and labour market needs, with entry granted on the basis of migrants’ productive and integrative potential.
In policy contexts such as Australia, governments often treat refugees and people seeking asylum as surplus to these requirements, establishing institutional barriers to the realisation of full citizenship rights. Expectations for the ‘productivity’ and ‘participation’ of these groups are low, with an increasingly negative and exclusionary discourse surrounding their entry. However, at the local level, communities make choices and take actions which can lead to meaningful participation of humanitarian migrants in social and economic life, in spite of their tenuous immigration status.
The concept of ‘inclusion’ thus encompasses a wider set of social relationships and opportunities, both formal and informal. Local stakeholders such as employers, councils, community organisations, volunteers and ‘street-level bureaucrats’ may not have the authority to implement formal, policy-driven ‘integration’ measures, but nevertheless play critical roles in migrant settlement.
Using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, this project will examine the factors shaping local inclusion for refugees and people seeking asylum, the findings of which will provide insights for the design of refugee integration schemes.
John van Kooy is a PhD Candidate in the Population, Migration and Social Inclusion Focus Program at Monash University. He has spent the last 10 years working as a research and evaluation professional in the international community development sector in Australia, Asia and Africa.