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Tuesday, 23 November 1993
Page: 3409

Senator McKIERNAN —My question is directed to the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. I refer the minister to previous announcements that the Bureau of Immigration and Population Research was to undertake the first ever long term survey of immigration to Australia. Can the minister inform the Senate of the progress of that survey? Further, is he aware of any media interest or involvement in the project?

Senator BOLKUS —I thank Senator McKiernan for a question which relates to what is probably the most ambitious and far-reaching project ever undertaken by the Bureau of Immigration and Population Research. The longitudinal survey to which Senator McKiernan refers should be under way by February next year and will run until around the turn of the century. The results from it will be used for planning and service delivery for many years into the future.

  The basis for the survey will be conducted by Reark Research. It has been commissioned to survey about 5,000 principal applicants for permanent residency, applicants who will arrive in Australia over the next six years. They will be interviewed three times within six months of their arrival, again a year later, and a third time two years after the second interview.

  I am pleased to say that, as the survey progresses, there will be another project running in tandem with it and parallel to it. That project is expected to make the migrant experience accessible to the whole Australian community, from the migrants' first impressions as new arrivals to their lives as settled residents.

  SBS television has been interested by the survey. Its Dateline program has expressed an interest in a joint project with the bureau, to run parallel with it. Details of an agreement between SBS and the bureau are being finalised. However, the proposal is for SBS and its program to follow a small group of migrants and monitor their progress from before their departure from their homeland to their long-term settlement within Australia. The migrants featuring in the documentary will be part of the longitudinal survey, but of course they will be identified and concessions will be made for their participation in the program.

  The survey of immigrants to Australia will be enormously beneficial to Australian policy makers and to community groups. The survey itself will build on the prototype survey which was conducted in 1991-92, which has provided valuable information to a wide range of researchers and agencies in a wide range of government departments. The other important aspect is that not only will it be a source of essential and extremely comprehensive data and information, but the access that the Australian public will have to the migration experience through the SBS documentaries should greatly increase the general understanding of what is involved in settling in a new country.