Discussing asylum seeker settlement
The City of Ballarat in regional Victoria recently hosted a forum to address the future settlement of asylum seekers.
More than 80 people from around the region attended the first Bridging the Gap Forum at the Ballarat Town Hall in early September.
The Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council (BRMC), Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, City of Ballarat and local partners hosted the collective impact forum, which specifically addressed the settlement of asylum seekers recently granted Safe Haven Enterprise Visas (SHEV).
The forum is the first of its kind and may be used as a model for other cities and regions seeking to welcome people on SHEV.
This five-year visa requires eligible people to either work or study in designated regions, of which Ballarat is one.
The forum created a space for discussions around undertaking a long-term project to provide pathways for people on SHEV who might be attracted to study and work in the Ballarat region.
Participants also used the time to talk about ways to encourage Safe Haven Visa holders to come to Ballarat to fulfil their visa requirements, and then to stay on and make the city their new home.
Representatives from government, business and industry, social and community sectors attended the forum, with discussions focused on a number of key areas, including welcoming and transition, education and employment pathways, housing, health and wellbeing, youth and business.