Welcome to the MYAN Australia E-Newsletter - the first of a quarterly bulletin presenting multicultural youth issues with a national lens.
Each edition will include updates from the states and territories, alongside a comprehensive round-up of nationally significant project, policy and research information.
The MYAN wish you all the very best for the festive season and we look forward to more exciting multicultural youth policy and project developments in 2012.
National Policy Update
Expansion of bridging visas for asylum seekers
The MYAN welcomes the Federal Government’s recent announcement that following initial health, security and identity checks, eligible boat arrivals who do not pose risks will be progressively considered for community placement on bridging visas while their asylum claims are assessed.
High Court ruling on the Special Humanitarian Program for unaccompanied minors
The MYAN welcomes the High Court’s decision of 14th December in relation to unaccompanied minors seeking to be reunited with parents under the Special Humanitarian Program. The High Court ruled that it was not a requirement of the granting of a visa under the SHP, that the sponsor be under 18 both at the time of submission or decision. As the Refugee Council has noted, in order for their applications to be considered the highest priority, unaccompanied minors sponsoring their parents previously had to establish that they were under 18 both at the time they lodged an SHP application and at the time a decision was made on the application. This created a barrier for unaccompanied minors seeking to reunite with their parents, as the often lengthy processing of SHP applications meant that some applicants turned 18 by the time a decision was made. Read more here.
National Children’s Commissioner
A number of NGO's have been lobbying for some time for an independent National Children's Commissioner. The MYAN was one of many organisations that submitted a response to the Bill for a National Children’s Commissioner in February this year, and participated in a Roundtable discussion convened by the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition (AYAC) and the Australian Human Rights Commission in September. This Roundtable brought together leading NGO's to achieve consensus on a number of principles and develop a set of recommendations for Government. A smaller taskforce is currently in the process of drafting and collaborating endorsements on a document of position, and preparing a response to the recently released discussion paper developed by FaHCSIA and the Attorney General’s department. It is also pleasing that the move from Melissa Parke MP, Chair of the UNICEF Parliamentary Association, at the recent Australian Labor Party National Conference, for an amendment for a National Children’s Commissioner received strong support. For more information on advocacy for a National Children's Commissioner, contact Jacqui McKenzie at AYAC Jacqui@ayac.org.au
Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) Update
The RCOA has recently completed consultations on Australia’s Refugee and Humanitarian Program as part of its annual submission to the Federal Government. Based on RCOA’s Discussion Paper, over 40 consultations were held in every state and territory, seeking the views of community members and service providers on a range of refugee and asylum seeker issues. The consultations explored the following issues in relation to young people:
The treatment and guardianship of unaccompanied minors (UAMs) and unaccompanied humanitarian minors (UHMs).
The lack of a national refugee education strategy to guide adequate funding allocations for students from refugee or humanitarian backgrounds under the National Education Agreement.
The HSS program and its new youth focus.
A report containing recommendations is currently being finalised and will be presented to the Federal Government this month. Details about the intake submission can be found here.
Settlement Council of Australia (SCOA) Update
SCOA has recently been engaged in national consultations on the development of Settlement Service Standards, including an online survey and presentation at the FECCA Conference. Initial feedback confirms the importance of developing standards that are meaningful to settlement work, reflecting good practice, rather than resulting in a set of ‘tick boxes’ for completion. The Victorian consultation highlighted a number of youth issues, including the need to provide services which are appropriate to the life situation and responsibilities of young people, and build on their strengths and capacity. Results of the survey and consultations on the Settlement Service Standards will be released in the new year.
The housing experiences of young people from refugee or newly arrived backgrounds were also raised in the November Settlement Policy Network, convened jointly by SCOA and RCOA. A policy paper capturing emerging issues is currently being finalised.
MYAN National News
National Community Detention Training
The MYAN has recently been engaged by the Australian Red Cross (ARC) to develop and deliver national training focusing on working with young people in community detention. This training will target caseworkers, residential carers, and ARC staff working with young people in the Community Detention program. Delivery is planned for early 2012 and will build on other national training for the CD program.
Youth Health Conference 2011
A pre-conference workshop convened by the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition (ARACY) and the Australian Research Alliance on Children and Youth (ARACY) at the Youth Health Conference 2011 focused on measuring outcomes in the youth sector to improve wellbeing. The MYAN presentation highlighted some of the challenges associated with measuring outcomes in service delivery with refugee and newly arrived young people, with a focus on early intervention in the homelessness sector, and introduced the work of the Young African Men’s Program in Brimbank, Melbourne.
FECCA Conference 2011
The recent FECCA Conference provided an opportunity to promote the work of the MYAN to conference delegates from across the country, highlighting the importance of a targeted, youth-specific approach to policy and program delivery. It was also an opportunity to provide a snapshot of the work of Multicultural Youth South Australia (MYSA), MYAN’s South Australian partner.
At the recent AGM of the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition (AYAC) the MYAN was elected onto AYAC’s Policy Advisory Council (PAC) for a further 2 years. The MYAN has been Chair of the PAC for the last 12 months, and works closely with AYAC to promote the needs and issues for multicultural young people in the broader youth sector. The PAC ensures that policy positions taken by AYAC are reflective of the needs and current trends of young people and the youth sector.
UNHCR Annual Consultation and Roundtable
The MYAN was represented at these annual consultations held in Canberra in October. A broad range of advocates and practitioners from across Australia were brought together to raise issues in relation to refugee and asylum policy and practice. Sessions focused on Regional Cooperation, Asylum and Legal Issues and Resettlement/Settlement and Working Groups considered emerging issues in the areas of Detention/Alternatives to Detention, Refugee Status Determination, and Resettlement. Day 2 focused on Advocacy, Media and Public Perceptions.
Youth issues were highlighted particularly in relation to current guardianship arrangements of Unaccompanied Asylum Seeker Minors (UAMs) and Unaccompanied Humanitarian Minors and (UHMs), and, for UHMs, the challenges associated with family sponsorship.
Refugee Youth Support National Pilot
The Department of Immigration and Citizenship will test a new approach to the provision of settlement services for older unaccompanied humanitarian minors (aged 16 to 17 years) through the Refugee Youth Support Pilot. The Pilot will focus on transitioning participants to independence, in particular through an emphasis on the development of practical skills such as decision making and personal organisation, as well as the provision of education and employment support.
Three service providers have been engaged to work collaboratively with the department to develop and conduct the Pilot. The organisations are: Centre for Multicultural Youth in Victoria; Multicultural Youth South Australia; and Multicultural Development Association in Queensland.
The Pilot is expected to commence in January 2012 and will be delivered over 12 months. The department will ensure that it keeps the sector updated on the Pilot and whether it will be considered as a long-term approach to the care of unaccompanied humanitarian minors. Read the Immigration Minister’s speech that mentions the pilot here.
MYAN State and Territory News
MYAN NSW has run several sector development forums over the last few months – in March on ‘Multicultural Young People and Transitions’ and more recently, in November, on ‘Multicultural young people and Intergenerational and Family Conflict’.
The November forum focused on good practice with young people and their families to resolve conflict and promote harmony and understanding. The forum was a great success with over 50 workers attending from across the community sector. The MYAN NSW is currently working on the development of a Discussion Paper exploring issues of intergenerational conflict. Presentations from all forums, as well as updates on all activities, are available here.
MYAN-NT representative Multicultural Youth NT (MyNT), along with partner organisations NTCOSS and Melaleuca Refugee Centre have been busy conducting consultations for the development of a policy paper exploring the needs of young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds settling in the Top End. This document is planned for release early in 2012 and will form a valuable and much needed platform for advocacy in the future.
MyNT will be handing over the MYAN-NT representative role to highly capable hands at Melaleuca Refugee Centre. MyNT would like to thank all members of the MYAN Australia for their wonderful and tireless work supporting migrant and refugee young people. It has been a great experience to represent NT issues on a national level.
The Multicultural Development Association (MDA) hosted the first multicultural youth settlement network meeting on 23 November in Brisbane. Attended by over 20 services from across the youth, settlement, government and education sectors, the meeting provided an opportunity to discuss issues of importance for multicultural young people. Key issues emerging included: education and the challenges facing schools with changing settlement patterns and, young people negotiating belonging and identity within family and community. It is anticipated that the network will meet quarterly, with the next meeting planned for Wednesday 21 March 2012.
Following the highly successful Multicultural Youth Voices forum in March this year, the MYAN TAS has continued to promote multicultural youth issues to government, as well as across the settlement and youth sectors. MYAN TAS recently presented at a Community Voices Forum held in Hobart and is working with the sector to explore education issues for newly arrived young people.
MYSA (Multicultural Youth South Australia) - Speak Out 3
Forming part of the FECCA pre-conference activities, Speak Out 3 was a youth-led forum discussing issues of importance to multicultural youth. 49 young people aged between 12 and 24 years from Somalia, Liberia, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Sudan, Rwanda, Burma, Congo and Uganda shared their ideas, issues and opinions with key national leaders - Dr Helen Szoke, Australian Race Discrimination Commissioner, Ms Gail Ker, CEO Access Settlement Services Inc. and Deputy Chair of the Australian Multicultural Council, Mr Pino Migliorino, Chairman of FECCA, and Mr Cedric Manen, Chairman of the Settlement Council of Australia. Key issues raised included education and training, sport and recreation, and racism. A full report will be available in early January 2012 from the MYSA website.
Multicultural Youth in Focus
Mohammad Al-Khafaji is a 22 year old Iraqi with a passion and commitment to empower the lives of others. Settling in Australia in 2002, Mohammed is an active member of the Iraqi community, working with and participating in a range of government and non-government projects. These include: MYSA’s Youth Ambassador’s Program, an advocate for the Oak Tree Foundation, numerous consultations on human rights issues and chair for the Minister’s Youth Council. Mohammed was acknowledged at MYSA’s recent World Human Rights Day Honour Roll, along with Genevieve Adzanku, Ghanaian youth leader. Mohammad is pictured centre below left, with other winners and community representatives including, the Hon Jing Lee MLC. Genevieve is pictured right, with MYSA’s Director Ms. Carmen Garcia and Hon Jing Lee MLC.
Other National News
2011 Young People’s Human Rights Medal - Tshibanda Gracia Ngoy
Congratulations to Tshibanda Gracia Ngoy, winner of this year’s Australian Human Rights Commission’s Human Rights Medal. Gracia is a 19 year old Congolese-born Australian who arrived under the Humanitarian Visas Program in July 2005. She is a passionate advocate for young people form newly and refugee backgrounds. Read more here.
AYAC Youth-Led Inclusion Project Grants 2012
AYAC invites youth led organisations to apply for one of six one-off grants of up to $2500 for projects, events, activities and programs that broaden their involvement of engaged young people. Applications close Friday, 20 January 2012. Read more.
Policy and Resources
MYAN Policy Briefing Paper
This recently revised paper provides an overview of the MYAN’s current policy priorities, developed in response to the needs and issues faced by multicultural young people across Australia. The paper will undergo a more comprehensive review after the MYAN annual meeting in early 2012. Download a copy here.
Intergenerational Conflict and Parenting
The MYAN, in partnership with the Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY), has recently finalised a brief literature review on Intergenerational Conflict among CALD Communities – in particular those from refugee backgrounds. Intergenerational conflict is one of the MYAN’s 8 policy priorities. Download a copy here.
On 6 December MYSA’s state based network, the Youth Settlement Action Network (YSAN) hosted a roundtable with Hon Kate Ellis MP, Minister for Employment Participation, to discuss concerns regarding employment issues for multicultural youth. A copy of the issues paper can be found here. Email MYSA for a copy.
The Family: Living Between Two Worlds
This recent 8-week SBS reality TV series explored the issues for second generation migrant families in Australia. An accompanying booklet (Living Between Two Worlds: a guide for second-generation migrant families) was developed through a partnership between FECCA and Relationships Australia. Download a copy and watch the episodes here.
University of NSW Refugee Conference - Youth Forum Report
The Report on the 2011 Refugee Conference Youth Forum and Australia Youth Forum (AFY) Discussion Topic was launched on the 15 November 2011 in Sydney by the Centre for Refugee Research. The Youth Forum was sponsored by the MYAN Australia and the AYF and supported by the MYAN NSW. It provided important opportunities for young people from refugee and non-refugee backgrounds to have their say about refugee youth issues in Australia and internationally. Download a copy from the MYAN website.
SBS Cultural Intelligence: 22nd December
SBS will brring together media commentators, experts, and influencers to debate media and diversity as part of a ground-breaking new conversation series - SBS CQ Cultural Intelligence. Now on http://www.sbs.com.au/shows/cq and airing on SBS TWO on Thursday 22nd December 2011.