Cities and Settlement

CPD is proud to announce our Cities and Settlement Initiative, consisting of three pillars delivered over three years.


The Cities and Settlement Initiative (CSI) aims to improve the economic participation of refugees in Australia. Our analysis tells us this would deliver a triple dividend: benefiting vulnerable Australians; boosting the budget; and improving community cohesion.

We seek better governance and coordination connected to partnerships and delivery at the local level. Our objectives include:

  • streamlining arrangements between federal, state and local governments;
  • developing an integrated service delivery model that improves labour market participation;
  • identifying best practice to be replicated and scaled; and
  • knitting more tightly together selected regional and capital cities and providers undertaking refugee settlement.


CSI is supported by the Myer Foundation, the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation and the Cameron Foundation and follows CPD’s February 2017 report, Settling Better: Reforming refugee employment and settlement services, released with the support of the Boston Consulting Group.

Settling Better Report:

Settling Better showed that the social and economic prize on offer if Australia can settle refugees better is enormous. A modest improvement would produce $2.5 billion more income for refugees and their families over the next decade and almost $1 billion more for the government. The benefits are far more than financial. Better job outcomes have the potential to strengthen social cohesion and reduce alienation and extremism – not just amongst refugees, but also amongst established members of the Australian community who might fear or resent newcomers.

CSI aims to deliver Settling Better’s vision in the local government areas settling the most refugees. Many of these cities, like Fairfield in Western Sydney, or Greater Dandenong and Hume on the outskirts of Melbourne, must be exemplars at settlement and ensure successful participation of refugees in local communities and economies. Local governments like these experience first-hand the challenges associated with welcoming newly arrived refugees, but often do so in silos, excluded from critical policy design. CSI will seek to counter this by boosting policy memory, capability and coordination across local governments, and their connection to state and federal government.

CSI builds off a central idea: settling refugees successfully makes cities successful. Not just capital cities, but large regional centres too. Cities, which embed into their DNA the successful integration of their most vulnerable settlers, are vital for Australia to remain a welcoming, successful, and open nation.

The Cities and Settlement Initiative has three components:

1. The Council on Economic Participation for Refugees

The Council seeks to recharge governance on refugee employment and settlement. We bring together all levels of government, inject fresh insights from cities, settlement service providers and civil society, and provide a clear purpose: economic participation. For more on the Council, see here.

2. A knowledge hub on best practice

The council on economic participation will require better evidence about what works. This means promising practices and policy measures to get refugees into appropriate jobs faster must be carefully evaluated and adjusted to ensure success. CSI’s second pillar does just that, building a knowledge hub for the settlement services sector, to identify and evaluate promising practices and make the evidence available to governments and settlement service providers via digital platforms and the council on economic participation.

3. An innovation network on civic engagement

Local initiatives, which lift civic engagement of refugees are often siloed, unknown, and struggle to attract money. CSI’s innovation network will meet in person and online to identify creative programs at a grassroots level, evaluate selected programs, then leverage resources in the start-up community and government to find a path for growth and replication of successful programs. At the heart of CSI’s innovation network is the intent to boost community participation by refugees, and to help them to take full advantage of the opportunities on offer for safer and more secure futures.

We look forward to keeping you updated as we deliver this exciting initiative.


cover execs mediarelease
Full report  Executive summary and foreword  Media release 


Helping refugees build new lives: Q&A with Peter Shergold, The Mandarin, 15.03.2018

‘The catch-22’: refugees to Australia struggle to find work, The Guardian, Ben Doherty, 20.03.2018.

How to better help refugees and asylum seekers enter the workforce, ABC Radio, Amand Smith, 12.12.2017.

Boosting Refugee Jobs Would Be A Win-Win For Australia, The Huffington Post, Henry Sherrell and Travers McLeod, 24.02.2017.

Finding jobs faster for new refugees a ‘triple win’ for Australia, report finds, The Guardian, Ben Doherty, 21.02.2017.

We’ve lost the knack of finding jobs for refugees, The Australian, Terry Moran and Larry Kamener, 20.02.2017.

AMP, Harvey Norman, Woolworths and Telstra back refugee jobs plan, Australian Financial Review, Laura Tingle, 19.02.2017.

Refugee settlement government has ‘no centre of gravity’The Mandarin, David Donaldson, 20.02.2017.


Related reading:

A Significant Contribution: The Economic, Social and Civic Contributions of First and Second Generation Humanitarian Entrants, Department of Immigration and Citizenship, 2011.

Building a New Life in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Humanitarian Migrants, Department of Social Services, 2015.




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