Third Council on Economic Participation for Refugees meeting



The Third Council on Economic Participation for Refugees meeting was held on 11/12 April 2019 at the Canberra office of the Boston Consulting Group. The meeting was timely. It started on the day Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the next Federal election and after a number of national policy reviews critical to the Council’s work. These developments combined to ensure a concerted focus on opportunities to boost the economic and social participation of humanitarian migrants in Australia.

The objectives of Third Council on Economic Participation for Refugees meeting were to:

  1. Build momentum and an implementation pathway for governance, policy and programming reforms to boost integration, employment and settlement outcomes for refugees, including the priorities of:
    • a centre of gravity within the federal government for relevant services including employment, language and settlement services, with appropriate links to state and local governments
    • place-based approaches to achieving greater economic and social participation for refugees involving holistic support, employer engagement and coordination of key services including employment, language and settlement, and
    • greater employer engagement in boosting sustainable employment for refugees.
  2. Inaugural meeting of the Local Areas Strategic Partnership group including sharing of recent developments in Wyndham, approaches taken in other local government areas and further refinement of a place-based framework for refugee economic and social inclusion.
  3. Launch Seven Steps to SUCCESS – a research report on supporting refugee entrepreneurship in Australia, which builds understanding of the huge potential of refugee entrepreneurs and outlines a strategic approach to supporting them.

Overview of Third Council on Economic Participation for Refugees meeting

1/ There was consensus regarding the importance of establishing a federal centre of gravity in humanitarian settlement policy and significant appetite for progressing it in practice.  This would provide a concentrated point of accountability for policy development and resource allocation.  Core functions of the centre of gravity would include setting shared outcomes, aligning policy implementation and driving integrated service delivery. The policy areas and programs to be included would be, at a minimum, settlement, language and employment services.

2/ There was overwhelming support for long-term ‘community deals’ – place-based approaches that harness federal, state and local efforts to boost economic participation of refugees. Local flexibility in the delivery of mainstream services would be a highly desirable feature. We identified ways to overcome hurdles to the implementation of these approaches in key locations and were encouraged by the commitment and motivation of the group to see this happen.

3/ We shared and discussed the preliminary findings of our research with Australian employers on refugee employment undertaken in collaboration with BCG and the University of Sydney. This work will culminate in the publication of a full report, with policy recommendations, in the second half of 2019.

4/ We launched Seven Steps to SUCCESS– a report on supporting refugee entrepreneurship published by CPD and the Open Political Economy Network.

5/ The Local Area Strategic Partnership Group had its inaugural meeting.  This group, convened by CPD, brings together a number of local government authorities, other local anchor organisations and thought leaders from across Australia to: (i) share promising practices from communities where humanitarian migrants settle in large numbers; (ii) develop trials and research initiatives; and (iii) collectively engage with federal and state government on matters relating to refugee participation in their communities. Representatives from Fairfield (NSW), Stirling (WA), Wyndham (Vic), Hume (Vic), Whittlesea (Vic) and Darling Downs and South West QLD were in attendance, with Armidale (NSW) also remaining engaged with the Cities and Settlement Initiative.

An underlying theme that flowed through all parts of the Council meeting was a shared understanding of the great benefits that flow to individuals, families and Australian society as a whole when we ensure refugees coming to Australia have the best start possible. That’s why the overall objective of CPD’s Cities and Settlement Initiative — settling refugees better, by helping them to find jobs or start businesses faster in the places they are settling most — is so important.

Key documents from the Third Council on Economic Participation for Refugees meeting


David Wilden – First Assistant Secretary – Policy Group International Policy, Department of Home Affairs

Ben Biddington – Assistant Secretary – Immigration Policy, Department of Home Affairs

George Osborne – Manager – Economic Development, Hume City Council

Julie Andrews – Coordinator – Community Capacity Building, Hume City Council

Hakan Akyol – Director, Community Participation, Victorian Department of Premier & Cabinet

James Jegasothy – Director Community Engagement and Strategy, The Office of Multicultural Interests (WA)

Jim Cavaye – Chair, Regional Development Australia

Trudi Bartlett –  Director, Regional Development Australia

Katie Baird – Manager – Vocational Initiatives, NSW Department of Industry

Katrina Currie – Executive Director – Employment, Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions

Kelly Grigsby – CEO, Wyndham City Council

Clifford Eberley – Social and Economic Inclusion Lead, Wyndham City Council

Linda White – Branch Manager – Foundation and Industry Skills, Department of Education and Training

Liz Hefren-Webb – Deputy Secretary, Families and Communities – Settlement Policy Branch, Department of Social Services

Jess Del Rio – Branch Manger – Settlement Policy Branch, Department of Social Services

Loga Chandrakumar – Director, Outcomes, Performance and Risk, Department of Health & Human Services Victoria

Matthew McLean –  Principal Policy Officer, Department of Premier & Cabinet

Matthew Roper – Assistant Secretary, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet

Nathan Smyth – Deputy Secretary – Employment, Department of Jobs and Small Business

Sarah Janali –  Team Leader Cultural Diversity & Community, City of Stirling

Simon Overland – CEO, Whittlesea Council

Susan Gibbeson – Manager, Social Development, Fairfield

Service Providers/Employers

Charis Martin-Ross – Head of Diversity and Sustainability, Allianz

Craig Robertson – CEO, TAFE Directors Australia

Huy Truong – Executive Director, Thrive Refugee Enterprise

Jamila Ahmadi – Settlement Sector Development Officer, Settlement Council of Australia

Kerrin Benson –  CEO, Multicultural Development Association

Leigh Hardingham – Senior Manager – Inclusion and Diversity, John Holland

Melinda Moore – Senior Manager – Economic Security and Social Inclusion – Given the Chance, Brotherhood of St Laurence

Jo Tabit – Senior Manager – Given the Chance, Brotherhood of St Laurence

Nirary Dacho – Co-founder, Refugee Talent

Paris Aristotle AO – CEO/Manager (Research & Policy), Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture

Josef Szwarc – Chair, Ministerial Advisory Council on Settlement Services

Peter Harrison – General Manager Education & Employment, AMES

Sonja Hood – CEO, Community Hubs Australia



Andrew Asten – Project Leader, Boston Consulting Group

Andrew Kaldor AM – Chair, Andrew and Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law

Betina Szkudlarek – Associate Professor in Management, University of Sydney

Carla Wilshire – CEO, Migration Council of Australia

David Hardie – Senior Program Officer, VFFF

Kirsty Allen –  Program Manager, The Myer Foundation and Sidney Myer Fund

Liz Ritchie – Co-CEO, Regional Australia Institute

Margaret Piper AM – Advisory Board Member, Multicultural NSW

Mark Watters – Partner & Managing Director, Boston Consulting Group

Miguel Carrasco – Partner and Managing Director, Boston Consulting Group

Paul Power – CEO, Refugee Council of Australia

Peter Shergold AC – Chancellor, Western Sydney University NSW Coordinator General for Refugee Resettlement

Philippe Legrain – Founder, Open Political Economy Network Former Economic Advisor to the President of the European Commission

Sean Innis – Director – Public Policy and Societal Impact Hub, Australian National University

Travers McLeod – CEO, Centre for Policy Development

Trish Clancy – Partner, Boston Consulting Group