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Major restructure of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs

The Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, Senator Nick Bolkus, today announced a number of major organisational changes in his Department, the Bureau of Immigration and Population Research and the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA).

The restructure, commencing on December 19, is based on the recommendations of an evaluation by consultants Price Waterhouse Urwick, who consulted widely with relevant individuals and groups.

"The restructure makes some of the most fundamental changes to the Department since its inception 50 years ago," Senator Bolkus said.

The changes aim to create a genuinely client-focused organisation while imposing better control over the complex policy inter-relationships and legislative and policy framework within which the Department operates.

It involves the creation of divisions dedicated to on-shore and overseas client services delivery as well as a new division dedicated to policy development and review.

"The Department needs to be able to contribute fully to the challenges of the Government's economic and social reform agenda," Senator Bolkus said.

"It is particularly important that we have access in our migration program to the best business and trade skills as Australia develops an outward-looking, internationally competitive economy in a region of great growth. Its capacity to do this will be enhanced by tapping business and community input."

Senator Bolkus also announced changes relating to OMA, including the relocation of its regional representatives within the ethnic affairs sections of the Department's State and Territory offices.

"Integrating the OMA regional representatives within the Department in this way will overcome the isolation and administrative difficulties of running very small offices," Senator Bolkus said. "It will allow for the more coordinated and effective community feedback to Government and better reflection of community needs in all Commonwealth services and programs. "

The administration of OMA grants, aimed at developing examples of good practice in community relations, will also be transferred to the Department next year.

The consolidation of the community grants will draw on the expertise of the Department in administering grants and allow for more efficient service delivery.

OMA will continue its role in respect of the Federation of Ethnic Community Councils of Australia (FECCA), including resource arrangements.

Senator Bolkus also announced that the Bureau of Immigration and Population Research will be renamed the Bureau of Immigration, Multicultural and Population Research.

"A recent review of the Bureau of Immigration and Population Research, the Menadue Report, pointed out that immigration and multicultural issues are often strongly linked and recommended that the Bureau undertake joint projects with OMA," he said.

"Bringing together the research in these fields by broadening the Bureau's perspective will enhance the Government's capacity to deliver services and capitalise on the social and economic potential for Australia of past and present migration".

Contact: Ruth Dewsbury, (06) 277 7860