Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
MCIMA communique.

Download PDFDownload PDF

Senator Chris Evans Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

MCIMA Communique

Perth, Friday 4 July 2008

The Ministerial Council on Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (the Council) met in Perth on 4 July 2008, hosted by the Government of Western Australia. The meeting was chaired by the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, and was attended by ministerial representatives from the State Governments. The Northern Territory and the ACT provided apologies.

The Parliamentary Secretary for Settlement and Multicultural Affairs, the New Zealand Minister of Immigration and the Australian Local Government Association attended the meeting as observers.

Key outcomes of the meeting were:

The Council noted that permanent and temporary migration is vital in assisting to meet skill shortages that are imposing capacity constraints around Australia and welcomed planned expansion of the migration program to meet these needs.

The Council welcomed the strategic approach being taken to migration planning. Members agreed that skilled migration must meet employer needs, protect the employment and training opportunities of Australians and have in place program arrangements for integrity and public confidence. Members also agreed that it was vital for visa initiatives to better target the flow of skilled migrants to regional Australia and be responsive to the needs of state and territory governments and regional labour markets.

The Council welcomed the Australian Government’s reform program for the temporary skilled migration program, particularly the review of the subclass 457 visa which will involve consultation with stakeholders.

There was positive discussion of the possibility of trialling a seasonal worker scheme in Australia, and the NZ experience was noted.

The Council noted that cultural diversity arising from migration was one of Australia’s great strengths and that there is no place for racism in Australia’s multicultural society.

The Council recognised the importance of effective settlement services to ensure the successful integration of permanent and temporary entrants into Australian society,

and noted a number of successful initiatives by government and the settlement services sector, including Western Australia’s Integrated Services Centre Model. The Council had productive discussion on areas that may require further attention, including:

• post-arrival settlement services; • services and entitlements available to temporary and provisional visa holders and their dependants;

• access to housing, particularly by humanitarian entrants; and • work by the Commonwealth-State Working Party on Skilled Migration on improving

employment outcomes for skilled migrants.

The Ministerial Council agreed to establish a new Commonwealth-State Working Party on Settlement Issues, to be chaired by Victoria.

Governments also agreed to work cooperatively on the provision of interpreting and translating services. The three identified priority areas for consideration are: recruitment of accredited interpreters in the industry; accreditation, recognition and registration of interpreters; and universal access and quality standards for services.

In July 2006, the Council endorsed the National Action Plan to build on Social Cohesion, Harmony and Security (the NAP). The NAP has been delivering on a range of initiatives in education, employment, integration and security across Australian and State and Territory Government programs. The Council agreed that it was timely to evaluate the NAP to learn from experience to date and inform ongoing policy development in this area.

The Council considered and endorsed the recommendations of the National Trafficking and Sexual Slavery Working Party. Trafficking in persons is a crime and is taken seriously by all jurisdictions. The Council noted that the inaugural Government Relations Roundtable on trafficking in persons was recently held and provides a mechanism for testing and developing government policy.

The Australian Government briefed the Council on a range of other reviews underway, including the Adult English Migrant Program, the Citizenship Test and the Living in Harmony Program.

The Council also received briefings on a range of other matters, including national research projects and initiatives on dealing with diversity.