The New and Emerging Communities Reference Group was established in 2015 and continues to assist the Commissioner to develop coordinated and coherent strategies to address systemic issues experienced by people from new and emerging communities such as racial harassment and discrimination. The Reference Group membership includes representatives from relevant state and federal government agencies, non-government organisations, community groups and educational institutions.
The group met twice in the last financial year and discussed issues relating to
- Travel concessions for people on community detention orders
- Job network access and levels of service for migrants and refugees
- Lack of availability of interpreters in the provision of services to people with low levels of English skills
- Lack of co-ordination of emergency relief for humanitarian entrants
As a follow up to these issues, the Acting Commissioner wrote to the Minister for Transport and the Department of Home Affairs to seek information on behalf of the group.
The Federal Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Tim Soutphommasane accepted an invitation to attend the July 2017 meeting and discussed:
- The drop in support for migration in Australia which was somewhat threatening Australia’ progress as a multicultural society
- Proposed changes to the citizenship test
- Mental health of refugees and humanitarian entrants
- Efforts to increase the diversity on the boards of Australian corporations.