ACU historian provides expert analysis of Australia’s new migration reforms

The federal government has announced plans to fix Australia’s “broken migration system” and to “bring migration back to sustainable, normal levels”.

Its long-awaited migration strategy aims “to build a migration system that earns the trust and confidence of our citizens”, or what the government calls, “rebuilding the social licence”.

Dr Rachel Stevens is a research fellow and historian based at ACU’s Centre for Refugees, Migration and Humanitarian Studies in the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences.

Dr Stevens says while the government has trumpeted the changes as the “biggest reforms in a generation”, cuts to immigration aren’t as dramatic as they seem.

“Instead of thinking of the strategy as a complete overhaul, the reforms are a number of long overdue remedies dealing with migrant worker exploitation, misuse of international student visas and an overly complex and inefficient bureaucracy,” Dr Stevens says.

Dr Stevens has analysed the government’s 100-page policy document and says intake cuts are overstated.

“Any cuts will largely be the result of a natural evening out of migration patterns in the post-pandemic world,” she says.

The new migration policy covers issues like revising temporary skilled migration, cracking down on alleged rorting of the international education system, replacing annual migration plans with longer-term forecasting and getting the states and territories, which bear most of the resettling costs, more involved.

However, while the policy blueprint may seem comprehensive, Dr Stevens says several key areas were neglected, including family reunification and Australia’s humanitarian intake.

“Family reunification is given four short paragraphs and includes no policy recommendations. This will be particularly heart breaking for those with elderly parents overseas,” Dr Stevens says.

“Discussion on humanitarian entrants is also brief. Again, it makes no new announcements and repeats an August statement that the government intends to increase the refugee intake from 17,875 to 20,000 places each year.

“With the United Nations estimating there are more than 110 million people currently displaced across the world, Australia’s paltry humanitarian intake will continue to be a source of shame.”

Dr Rachel Stevens is a research fellow and contemporary refugee historian in ACU’s Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences.

Read the article originally published in The Conversation

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