'Everybody has settled in so well': How migrants make connections and build social capital in Geelong
Jackson, Ruth, Jatrana, Santosh, Johnson, Louise, Kilpatrick, Sue and King, Tanya 2013, 'Everybody has settled in so well': How migrants make connections and build social capital in Geelong, Alfred Deakin Research Institute, Deakin University, Geelong, Vic..
Australian and Victorian Government policies encourage settlement in regional areas for international migrants, refugees and internal migrants. Migrants to regional areas are diverse in terms of their area or country of origin, skills and occupation, family status and other demographic characteristics. The regional cities to which they migrate are also varied in terms of their community resources, social and cultural capital. The objective shared by all of these cities is for migrants to engage successfully with their new communities. Just how this occurs is the subject of debate and a lack of clarity. This therefore calls for a sound, theoretically informed understanding of how employers and community groups (formal and informal) can effectively assist migrants to make social connections in regional cities, and practical strategies which respond to these insights. The well-established social determinants of health tell us that the more socially included, connected and stable workforce and their families are, the better will be their physical and mental health and wellbeing.
People in Australia generally move to live near family and friends; for better access to work or work opportunities; or to live in an attractive neighbourhood. Policies and programs intended to assist with settlement tend to be short term and project based. Good practice in assisting migrants make social connections however is long term and embedded into the community. Workplaces and community groups that are already established, and groups that migrants or others tend to form naturally, are good examples of such best practice. Workplaces, local government, institutions such as schools, community spaces and other organisations can also assist in the settling in process and can complement formal and informal community groups, once a sound evidence base is established.
This is the second paper to emerge from a research project running over 2011-2012 at the Alfred Deakin Research Institute (ADRI), Deakin University in Geelong. The first Working Paper (No. 32) (Jackson et al., 2012) located the research theoretically. This second Working Paper will report on the research itself, its methods and outcomes as well as policy implications. The first section of this paper will briefly outline the project before considering those who have migrated to Geelong in the past two to five years: to investigate why they moved to Geelong; how they made connections and with whom; and, what was the value of those connections (Section 2). The third section of the paper examines how employers, non-government organisations (NGOs) and other facilitators effectively assist migrants to make social connections. The fourth and fifth sections look at the barriers to making connections but also those things – organisation and policies - that facilitated settling in. Section six summarises the findings and makes a series of policy recommendations for individuals, organisations and government on how to better the prospects for migrant in regional centres.
Field of Research
160403 Social and Cultural Geography 160514 Urban Policy 160801 Applied Sociology, Program Evaluation and Social Impact Assessment
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