The Changing Settlement Experience of New Migrants

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1 The Changing Settlement Experience of New Migrants Inter-Wave Comparisons for Cohort 1 and 2 of the LSIA Report to the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs The National Institute of Labour Studies, Flinders University - June 2004 Professor Sue Richardson Dr Sue Stack Megan Moskos Laurence Lester Josh Healy Lauren Miller-Lewis Diana Ilsley John Horrocks

2 ISBN Commonwealth of Australia 2004 This work is copyright. You may download, display, print and reproduce this material in unaltered form only (retaining this notice) for your personal, non-commercial use or use within your organisation. All other rights are reserved. Requests and inquiries concerning reproduction and rights should be addressed to the Manager, Copyright Services, Info Access, GPO Box 2154, Canberra ACT 2601 or by This report is a companion volume to The Changing Labour Force Experience of New Migrants. The companion report is available online at: or in hardcopy from the Department s Research Section Tel: or

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4 TABLE OF CONTENTS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1 1 INTRODUCTION 8 2 EMPLOYMENT 9 3 INCOME 12 4 HOUSEHOLD EXPENDITURE 14 5 HEALTH Physical Health Psychological Health Interrelationships Between Health Factors Conclusions 20 6 HOUSING Comparisons Difficulties Experienced In Getting Housing Mobility Conclusion 34 7 ENGLISH PROFICIENCY Analysis of English Language Courses Conclusion 44 8 QUALIFICATIONS Assessment of Overseas Qualifications Use of Qualifications Patterns of Further Study In Australia Conclusion 53 9 FINANCES Assets Transferred to Australia Post Arrival Assets Transferred From Australia Remittances-Funds Sent From Australia On A Regular Basis Financial Help Received Conclusions SPONSORSHIP OF RELATIVES Assistance Provided by Sponsor Composition of Family Members Overseas Sponsorship Intentions Conclusions SATISFACTION WITH LIFE IN AUSTRALIA General Satisfaction With Life In Australia Intention to Apply for Australian Citizenship Major Likes And Dislikes of Australia Emigration Intentions Conclusions SOCIAL INDICATORS Perceptions of Life In Australia Maintenance of Cultural Links Participation In The Community Awareness of Multicultural Policy Conclusion 93

5 13 SUPPORT SERVICES Types of Support Received The Organisations That Are Most Commonly Contacted Satisfaction With Help Received Internet Use Conclusion 103 LIST OF FIGURES 2.1 Labour Force Status Assessing Health As Good Or Very Good, by Selected Factors Migrants Main Method of Learning English In Australia Benefits of English Language Classes, Cohort 2 Wave Other Ways English Language Courses Help Migrants, Cohort 2, Wave Migrants Qualifications Assessment How Qualifications Assessed Value of Assets Transferred to Australia Average Value of Assets Transferred by Migrants In The Form of Funds Average Value of Money Sent Overseas by Migrants Assistance Received From Sponsor. Cohort Primary Applicant Use of The Internet 102 LIST OF TABLES 5.1 Presence of Long Term Health Conditions by Selected Characteristics Presence of Significant Psychological Distress by Selected Characteristics Interrelationships Between Health Factors Household Size Housing Tenure by Visa Category Dwelling Type by Visa Category Housing Satisfaction by Visa Category a Proportion of Primary Applicants With Given Levels of Housing Costs for Each Level of 29 Family Income 6.5b Percentage of Primary Applicants (And Their Families) With Given Levels of Housing 30 Costs for Each Level of Family Income 6.6 for Those Who Moved, Main Reason for Choosing Current Suburb/Town Reasons for Moving A Short Distance Characteristics Those Attending English Courses At Last Interview Or Starting A Course 37 Since Last Interview, Cohort 2 Wave Characteristics of Migrants Who Tried to Improve English Since Last Interview, Cohort 2, 38 Wave Selected Features of The Assessment of Migrants Qualifications Percentage of Qualified Migrants Who Use Their Qualifications Often Or Very Often In 48 Their Main Job 8.3 Selected Features of Migrants Participation In Further Study Selected Characteristic of Migrants Who Transferred Funds, Personal Effects Or Capital 55 Equipment to Australia 9.2 Asset Transfers Selected Features Remittances Selected Features Financial Help Selected Features Assistance Received From Sponsor by Visa Category Overseas Relatives of Primary Applicants Sponsorship of Relatives Percent Very Satisfied Or Satisfied With Life In Australia, by Selected Factors 76

6 11.2 Percent That Would Encourage Others to Migrate to Australia, by Selected Factors Percentage of Migrants Intending to Apply for Australian Citizenship, by Selected Factors What Migrants Liked About Australia What Migrants Disliked About Australia Perceptions Held by Migrants About Aspects of Life In Their Former Country of Residence 88 And In Australia 12.2 Characteristics of Sole Person Households, Migrants Compared to The General Australian 91 Community 13.1 Support Received Support Services Contacted by Primary Applicants Primary Applicant Satisfaction With Help From Support Services Primary Applicants Who Used The Internet Cohort 2 Wave2, by Selected Factors 103 LIST OF APPENDICES A5.1 Percentage Who At Assessed Their Health As Good Or Very Good by Selected Characteristics A5.2 Self-Assessed Health Status by Visa Category A5.3 Self-Assessed Health Status by Gender A5.4 Self-Assessed Health Status by English Proficiency A5.5 Self-Assessed Health Status by Age A5.6 Wave 2 Self-Assessed Health Status by Visa Category A5.7 Wave 2 Self-Assessed Health Status by Gender of Primary Applicant And Migrating Unit Spouse A5.8 Wave 2 Self-Assessed Health Status by Age A5.9 Wave 2 Self-Assessed Health Status by Region of Birth A5.10 Wave 2 Self-Assessed Health Status by English Proficiency A5.11 Presence of Long-Term Health Conditions by Selected Characteristics A5.12 Number of Cases of Long-Term Health Conditions A5.13 Number of Health Care Visits In The Past 4 Weeks by Visa Category A5.14 Number of Health Care Visits In The Past 4 Weeks by Gender A5.15 Number of Health Care Visits In The Past 4 Weeks by Age A5.16 Number of Health Care Visits In The Past 4 Weeks by English Proficiency A7.1 Completion Rates for AMEP And Other Types of English Courses, A7.2 Characteristics of Those Needing Interpreting Services A7.3 Reasons for Not Completing English Courses by Presence of Long Term Health Condition A9.1 Proportions of Migrants In Each Category Who Transferred Funds, Personal Effects Or Capital Equipment From Australia A9.2 Value of Remittances A10.1 Labour Force Status by Visa Category A10.2 Sponsor Assistance by Gender A10.3 Sponsor Assistance by English Proficiency A10.4 Relatives Overseas by Visa Category A10.5 Primary Applicants With Relatives Overseas, by Age A10.6 Relatives Overseas by English Proficiency A10.7 Intent to Sponsor Overseas Relatives by English Proficiency A10.8 Major Reasons Relatives Not Yet Sponsored by Visa Category A10.9 Major Reasons for Not Sponsoring Any (More) Overseas Relatives, by Visa Category A11.1 Satisfaction With Life In Australia by Selected Characteristics A11.2 Satisfaction With Life In Australia by Visa Category A11.3 Satisfaction With Life In Australia by Gender A11.4 Satisfaction With Life In Australia by English Proficiency A11.5 Satisfaction With Life In Australia by Age A11.6 Feelings On The Migration Decision by Selected Characteristics A11.7 Main Reasons Given for Wanting to be an Australian Citizen A11.8 Main Reasons Given by Migrants for Not Wanting to Apply for Australian Citizenship A11.9 What Migrants Liked About Australia by Visa Category A11.10 What Migrants Disliked About Australia by Visa Category

7 A11.11 What Migrants Satisfied With Life In Australia Liked About Australia A11.12 What Migrants Who Felt They Made The Right Decision to Move to Australia Liked About Australia A11.13 What Migrants Not Satisfied With Life In Australia Disliked About Australia A11.14 What Migrants Who Regretted Decision to Move to Australia Disliked About Australia A11.15 Migrants Expectations of Emigration by Selected Characteristics A11.16 Main Reasons Given for Wanting to Return Permanently to Home Country At Wave 2 A11.17 Main Reasons for Wanting to Emigrate to Another Country At Wave 2 A11.18 Emigration Intentions, by Satisfaction With Life In Australia A12.1 Perceptions of Crime Levels by Selected Characteristics A12.2 Perceptions of Race/Culture/Nationality Tolerance by Selected Characteristics A12.3 Perceptions of Influence Over Government by Selected Characteristics A12.4 Perceptions of Monetary Reward by Selected Characteristics A13.1 Percentage of Primary Applicants Who Received Support by Visa Category A13.2 Percentage of Primary Applicants Who Received Support by Age A13.3 Percentage of Primary Applicants Who Received Support by English Proficiency A13.4 Support Services Contacted by Primary Applicants by English Proficiency A13.5 Support Services Contacted by Primary Applicants by Visa Category A13.5 Support Services Contacted by Primary Applicants by Age A13.7 Primary Applicants Purpose of Internet Use, by Gender A13.8 Primary Applicants Purpose of Internet Use by English Proficiency A13.8 Primary Applicants Purpose of Internet Use by Age A13.10 Primary Applicants Purpose of Internet Use by Visa Category

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9 Executive Summary A s part of the new world, Australia has had an active migration program ever since white settlement. Today, almost one quarter of Australian residents were born overseas. The experience of being a new migrant is a big part of the Australian story. This report examines in detail the settlement experiences of two groups of new migrants in their first year and a half in Australia. The Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs initiated a major series of surveys of recently arrived migrants, known as the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Australia (LSIA). Two sets of surveys have been conducted, of migrants who received their visas offshore. The first set surveyed migrants arriving in Australia from September 1993 to August 1995 (Cohort 1) and the second surveyed migrants arriving in Australia from September 1999 to August 2000 (Cohort 2). Migrants were first interviewed about six months after arrival. A second wave of interviews of the same people was conducted 12 months after the first wave. This report provides an account of the insights that we can obtain from a close analysis of these data. A companion report looks in more detail at the labour force outcomes, income and qualifications of these migrants. In this report we focus particularly on information from the second waves of both Cohort 1 and Cohort 2. We use this to describe and compare the experience of these two groups of recent migrants, and to see what changes have occurred for the second group in the twelve months since their first interview. 1 Employment Overall, the satisfactory labour market outcomes of Cohort 2, that were identified in an earlier report 2, have been maintained and enhanced in the subsequent 12 months in Australia. Eighteen months after arrival, levels of employment were high, unemployment was low and participation in the labour market was low only for Humanitarian and Preferential family/family stream migrants. Cohort 2 has much higher employment, and much lower unemployment, than Cohort 1, both six months and 18 months after arrival. However, the size of the Cohort 2 advantage has diminished between Waves 1 and 2. All the visa groups, in both cohorts, made large gains in employment over the twelvemonth period between the first and second waves of interviews. A total of 28 per cent had experienced some unemployment in the 12 months between interviews. Importantly, long term unemployment was rare. Very few held more than one job, so the image of the typical migrant having to accept multiple bits and pieces of low 1 In a companion report, The Changing Labour Force Experience of New Migrants: Inter-wave Comparisons for Cohort 1 and 2 of the LSIA, we examine in detail the employment, income, qualifications and English language proficiency of recent migrants. 2 The Labour Force Experience of New Migrants, report by the National Institute of Labour Studies, for DIMIA,

10 paid insecure work to make ends meet is not supported by the information provided in the survey. Nor did they work especially long hours. While some had found it necessary to change their occupation in order to obtain a job in Australia, an equal number had chosen to do so as a new opportunity. In many ways, Cohort 2 migrants looked much like the Australian labour force more generally. They relied on family, friends and employment agencies to find work; they worked a typical range of hours; a proportion wanted to change jobs to get more money or more job satisfaction, or use their qualifications better; and most but not all were satisfied with the sort of work they did. Income In addition to employment, a second key indicator of successful settlement in Australia is the extent to which recent migrants are able to earn an income sufficient to support themselves and their families. Earnings from wages and salaries are the overwhelming source of income for recent migrants. All the evidence on income and earnings confirms two main themes. These are that Cohort 2 has done better in establishing the basis for financial independence than did Cohort 1 at the same duration of settlement. And an additional 12 months in Australia, between Waves 1 and 2 for Cohort 2, has resulted in increased incomes and earnings. The superior economic outcomes for Cohort 2 is the result of two factors. One is that the characteristics of Cohort 2 migrants were more conducive to success in the labour market: they were on average younger, better educated and had better English language skills. The second is that, even for those with the same attributes, Cohort 2 migrants typically had higher earnings and income than did their earlier counterparts. This confirms what we found when comparing the cohorts after six months in Australia. In most cases, the early advantage has been retained, even if the size of the advantage has diminished for some groups with extra time in Australia. Household Expenditure Overall, Primary Applicants felt no more comfortable about the adequacy of their income to meet their needs, 18 months after arrival than they did six months after arrival. This lack of apparent progress in establishing a comfortable standard of living is at odds with the rise in income between the two waves. It is also at odds with the judgement of almost half of Cohort 2 migrants, who felt that they had made progress in establishing an adequate income from their own resources between Waves 1 and 2. Only a minority felt that they went backwards. The gainers tended to be the ones who were already doing relatively well the economic visa groups and migrants with fluent English. Those with the lowest levels of English proficiency made the least progress. The main reasons for feeling better off were rises in pay and, of lesser importance, additional employment. The surveys provide some direct information on the material standard of living of the migrants, in the form of estimates of expenditure on a nominated set of items. There was little change in average weekly spending on food and clothes, between Waves 1 and 2 of Cohort 2. There was, however, some increase in spending on medical care and on transport. But even by Wave 2 of Cohort 2, these amounts still were quite low, relative to the Australian average. Total reported expenditure is considerably less than total income for each category of migrant. This reinforces the conclusion that the selected items reported in the LSIA do not give a full account of migrant expenditure or standards of living. 2

11 Health Migrant selection criteria include a requirement that a person have no substantial chronic ill health. It is not surprising, then, to find that overall, the vast majority of migrants reported believing their health was at least good. Those less likely to report that their health was at least good were Humanitarian migrants, those who could not speak English well, older migrants, and females. At Wave 2, Cohort 2 were more likely to report that their health was good than Cohort 1 (91% compared to 86%). This pattern was the same for both sexes, all age groups, all levels of English proficiency and for all visa categories, with the exception of the Humanitarian migrants. Humanitarian migrants showed the opposite pattern, with Cohort 1 being more likely to report their health was good than Cohort 2 (77% versus 68%). The two most common long-term health problems for both cohorts and both waves were arthritis/rheumatism and nerves/stress problems. One-quarter of all the migrants reported a significant level of psychological distress, with greater prevalence in females, those in the middle age-groups (rather than younger or older age-groups), those who spoke English not well or not at all, and especially in the Humanitarian migrants. At Wave 2 (18 months after arrival), a quarter of both Cohorts 1 and 2 showed psychological distress at a level indicating the need for a full psychiatric assessment. Thus, at Wave 2 the migrants were still exhibiting a level of distress that was much greater than the general Australian population. Housing Finding suitable and affordable housing is a major issue for immigrants in the early settlement years. In Cohort 2, Wave 2, we detect fewer large households (comprising five or more persons) than in previous waves and a move away from shared accommodation to home ownership. The quality of housing enjoyed by Cohort 2 remains high and the Independent and Humanitarian visa category groups are happier than they were at Wave 1 (although the latter only marginally so). The majority of migrants (60%) have not moved since they first arrived, while for those who have, the move was likely to be into better quality housing. Work and employment opportunities, a preferred lifestyle and a sense of community among family and friends accounted for over 60 per cent of the reasons nominated for choosing their town or suburb. Wanting one s own home and independence accounts for almost one-third of the motivations for short distance moves. As we might expect, independence rates highly for those who tend to share accommodation on arrival the Preferential family/family stream and Concessional family/skilled Australian-linked visa category groups. Migrants generally reflect the overall population in terms of their aspirations. They move because they want more space, in a nice dwelling, well located, close to amenities and they want these things at an affordable price. English Language Proficiency Overall, there were improvements in English proficiency between Waves 1 and 2 in Cohort 2 that consolidate the better outcomes in this area for Cohort 2 compared with those for Cohort 1. By Cohort 2 Wave 2 more than three quarters of all migrants said they could speak English well. The improvements in English proficiency for Humanitarian and Preferential family/family 3

12 stream migrants at Wave 2 in Cohort 2 appear stalled, with little gain in proficiency over the preceding 12 months. We refer here to the experience of both Primary Applicants and migrating spouses. A typical English language student is likely to be a female migrant quite possibly from the Preferential family/family stream visa category in her late-twenties/early-thirties who does not speak English well, has had a need for interpreting services and who is unlikely to be in the labour force. The main reason for wanting to improve English may well be to subsequently find work but she is also motivated by a desire to survive in her new land and communicate well with family and the society in which she now lives. While there is a 60 per cent chance that the course chosen would be an AMEP course soon after arrival, by Cohort 2 Wave 2 it was just as likely that some other type of course would be pursued or that informal methods for improving English have been settled upon. However, having commenced English language classes there are likely to be difficulties to overcome. For some, either work commitments or family caring responsibilities will overwhelm her ability to complete the course. To the extent that there is any dissatisfaction with the course itself it probably arises from a mismatch between its degree of difficulty and the student s level of ability on entering the course. Our typical student is among the 90 per cent whose English improves as a result of attending classes. As a result, everyday activities associated with settling into a new land become easier and opportunities to find a job or pursue further education are enhanced. Thus, the targeting of English courses, the range of types of courses on offer and the courses themselves appear to be functioning well. It remains that the Preferential family/family stream and Humanitarian visa category students experience difficulties and may benefit from a more intensive or more specific set of support services to allow them to complete their courses. Qualifications The extent to which migrants are able to use their qualifications is important because migrants who quickly find work that makes use of their qualifications are likely to be more productive on the job, better paid for the work they do, and happier about their degree of integration into Australian society. A range of Australian agencies is involved in assessing migrants qualifications. The assessments are usually done quickly, and a majority result in qualifications being recognised at the same level as they were originally awarded. For Cohort 2 migrants, 17 per cent of assessments reported at Wave 2 stipulated that some further training would be required. The increase in the completed assessment of migrants overseas qualifications between the Waves (6%) was the same for both cohorts. Even by Wave 2, it is still the case that there are many more migrants yet to have their assessments completed than those who have been assessed. Migrants who choose not to have their qualifications assessed usually make this decision because an assessment was not needed to find a job, because they wanted to learn English better first, or because they have simply not got around to seeking assessment yet. For both cohorts, the proportion who used their qualifications often or very often scarcely changed between Wave 1 and Wave 2. However, at 62 per cent it was higher for Cohort 2 than for Cohort 1 (at 49%). Thus qualified migrants from Cohort 2 are more likely to make frequent use of their qualifications in their jobs than was the case for Cohort 1, and 4

13 this is particularly true for females, younger workers, and those from the Concessional family/skilled Australian-linked and Preferential family/family stream visa categories. Most migrants have not undertaken further study since arriving in Australia, but the proportion to do so rises between Wave 1 and Wave 2 (for both cohorts). Of those who do study, most attend courses at TAFE or university, and over three-quarters go on to successfully complete the qualifications they have begun. About half of all the migrants in each cohort intend to study in the future, with most wanting to do so as a means of improving their employment or upgrading existing qualifications. Finances We examined four distinct elements of migrant finances: asset transfers to Australia, asset transfers from Australia, remittances (monies sent to relatives or friends overseas), and financial help received from local and overseas sources. The vast majority of migrants did not transfer any funds, personal effects or capital equipment to Australia, but those in Cohort 2 are slightly more likely to have done so than those in Cohort 1. The migrants most likely to transfer assets to Australia were: in the Business skills/employer nomination scheme visa group, male, middle-aged, and good English speakers. The average value of funds transfers (on a per migrant basis) was higher in Cohort 2 than in Cohort 1, and rose for both cohorts over time. The majority of assets transferred to Australia were in the form of funds. There was a small increase in the rate migrants transferred assets from Australia from Wave 1 to Wave 2, but the total proportion of migrants who make asset transfers abroad is still very small (fewer than one in ten) and the assets are mostly in the form of funds. The average value of transfers from Australia increases for both cohorts between Wave 1 and Wave 2, and the rate of increase in value is faster for Cohort 2. A slightly smaller percentage of Cohort 2 migrants send money overseas to relatives and friends than was the case for Cohort 1. However, those migrants from Cohort 2 who do make remittances, on average, send larger amounts. There is quite clear evidence that more time in Australia increases the proportion of remitting migrants. It is likely that those who choose to make remittances are simply in a better position to send more than their counterparts in Cohort 1 could afford. Migrants mostly turned to their family for financial help. They were most likely to receive help from family in Australia, but the proportion who accessed this source of help fell from Wave 1 to Wave 2. In contrast, the proportion who received help from family overseas, the next most likely source, rose with time. Very small proportions of migrants received financial help from government overseas, from their employer, from friends, or from community groups. The total value of financial help received by migrants increased over time, but the number receiving help fell. Sponsorship of Relatives The Preferential family/family stream category accounted for over 85 per cent of sponsored families (in Cohort 2). Migrants with higher levels of English proficiency had lower need for assistance from their sponsor. As expected, the use of sponsors assistance falls with time. In Cohort 2, there was a reasonably rapid decrease in the use of assistance, with the proportion of those not using any assistance increasing three-fold by Wave 2. There remained, however, substantial use of assistance 5

14 by Wave 2 with over half of immigrant families receiving at least one of the following forms of assistance - food, clothing and household goods; financial assistance; and assistance with finding accommodation. Intentions to sponsor overseas relatives increased quite substantially between Cohorts 1 and 2 (doubling in some visa categories), while actual sponsorship fell. The Humanitarian category had the highest intent, and Concessional family/skilled Australian-linked migrants were also well above the average of about 40 per cent. The major reason immigrants had not yet carried out sponsorship intentions switched between Cohort 1 and 2 from insufficient money to relatives not interested. This is consistent with the change in profile of immigrants: Cohort 2 immigrants are, on average, less financially constrained but their relatives are less keen to immigrate. Satisfaction with Life in Australia How satisfied are new migrants are with life in Australia? Satisfaction matters because those who are happy with their initial migrant experience will be more likely to become productive and active members of Australian society. It is also important, of course, for the wellbeing of the migrants themselves. When the migrants were asked at each interview to rate their overall satisfaction with life in Australia, the resulting picture was a resoundingly positive one. The vast majority (94% of Cohort 2 Wave 2) of migrants reported being either satisfied or very satisfied when asked how do you feel about your life in Australia? Overall, Cohort 2 were more satisfied with life in Australia than Cohort 1, and there was an increase in satisfaction from Wave 1 to Wave 2 of Cohort 2. It is likely that the higher levels of employment and income of Cohort 2 have contributed to their greater reported life satisfaction. Corresponding well to the findings on satisfaction, most of the migrants intended to apply for Australian citizenship. Their main reasons for wanting to become a citizen were to stay in Australia permanently and to belong to and feel Australian. When migrants were asked what they liked about Australia, non-material aspects such as the environment, lifestyle, the friendly people and the fact that it is quiet, peaceful and safe were the most frequent responses. Of the material factors, education and employment were consistently the most frequently liked aspects of Australia. When asked what they disliked, the most common response was nothing, which is consistent with the high level of satisfaction that migrants reported. Those who did nominate aspects they disliked most frequently reported disliking lifestyle/social factors and employment difficulties. Only a small number of respondents either intended to leave Australia permanently or had already done so. We note that those immigrants who were the least satisfied with their life in Australia are likely to have been amongst the two per cent of each Cohort who emigrated out of Australia during the survey period, and are thus not included in the sample considered here. Social Indicators On every major social indicator, migrants had superior perceptions of Australia than of their former countries of residence. In particular, they perceived lower levels of crime, greater personal influence over government, greater contact between persons of different racial and cultural 6

15 backgrounds, better monetary reward for hard work, and better education opportunities. The perceptions held by Cohort 2 migrants also tended to be more favourable than those reported by Cohort 1, especially in terms of perceived levels of crime, racial tolerance, religious tolerance, and inter-cultural interaction. Whilst holding favourable perceptions about social life in Australia, the vast majority of migrants considered it important that they maintain cultural ties to their former country of residence. Young migrants and those from the Preferential family/family stream visa group were most likely to want to maintain their cultural ties. Migrants were able to engage with their new communities in Australia by attending organised activities and through informal contact with neighbours. Migrants were most likely to attend activities organised by either people from their country of origin or by a religious organisation, which suggests they feel most comfortable building their social networks in familiar cultural contexts. The average migrant has spoken to six people in his/her immediate neighbourhood, and would consider three of these to be friends. Support Services New migrants to Australia require assistance in a number of different areas to help their successful integration into a foreign country. Australia provides a number of support services to new migrants that help migrants significantly in this process. These range from standard services which provide support to all Australian residents, such as Medicare and the Australian Taxation Office, to more specific support tailored to meet individual migrant needs, including learning English and trauma counselling. Overall, a great deal of support was received by migrants in the first six months in Australia. By Wave 2 of Cohort 2 however, a general decline in the use of these services was evident. Assistance received with finding housing/ accommodation and help concerning health services and health insurance saw the biggest decline whilst help received with financial matters and torture/trauma counselling was unchanged between Waves 1 and 2 of Cohort 2. Given the types of assistance sought by migrants it was not surprising to find that most migrants contacted the core government agencies. The organisations that were most commonly contacted to provide the assistance sought by migrant were: The Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA), Centrelink and Medicare. Fewer than five per cent of migrants contacted ethnic, non-profit welfare services or embassies. A large majority of migrants were satisfied with the help that they received. Levels of satisfaction ranged from just under three-quarters of respondents satisfied with Embassy of Former Country of Residence to all respondents satisfied with the services of Torture/Trauma Counselling (Cohort 2 Wave 1) and Ethnic Welfare Agency (Cohort 2 Wave 2). Perhaps more surprising, virtually all those who had contact with the Australian Taxation Office were satisfied with the service they received, as were most who used Medicare. 7

16 1. Introduction A s part of the new world, Australia has had an active migration program ever since white settlement. Today, almost one quarter of Australian residents were born overseas, and there have been a number of years since World War 2 when migration provided over half of our population growth. Despite the significance of migration in the Australian story, it is not until recently that we have had the information that enables us to obtain a good appreciation of the experience of recent migrants in settling into their new country of residence. Nor has there been good evidence from which to assess the consequences for successful settlement of changes in migration policy and services. An important initiative by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs has produced a world class data set that enables the early settlement experience of two different cohorts of migrants to be traced in detail. Two sets of surveys have been conducted, of migrants who received their visas offshore. The first set surveyed migrants arriving in Australia from September 1993 to August 1995 (Cohort 1) and the second surveyed migrants arriving in Australia from September 1999 to August 2000 (Cohort 2). Migrants were first interviewed about six months after arrival. A second wave of interviews of the same people was conducted 12 months after the first wave. The information collected in this Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Australia (LSIA) provides a unique insight into a number of important questions. These include the extent to which people who migrate under different visa categories have different outcomes; the impact of personal attributes such as English language proficiency, age, formal education and gender on economic independence and other settlement outcomes; and the role played by Australian migrant services in assisting settlement. It is also possible to investigate whether changes in the overall state of the economy and in government policy have had a substantial effect on the early integration of migrants into employment. In this report we focus particularly on information from the second waves of both Cohort 1 and Cohort 2. We use this to describe and compare the experience of these two groups of recent migrants, and to see what changes have occurred for the second group in the twelve months since their first interview. Changes in migrant selection criteria produced substantial changes in the main characteristics of migrants between the two cohorts. Compared with Cohort 1, Cohort 2 had a higher proportion of people who were highly educated, fluent in English, employed, and reliant on their own wage earnings. The other side of the coin was that Cohort 2 had a smaller proportion who had little education, spoke little or no English, were unemployed and reliant on social welfare support. These differences were large. For example, the proportion who were employed about six months after arrival in Australia rose from 33 to 50 per cent, while the proportion who had less than Year 12 education fell from 23 to 14 per cent (these data refer to both Primary Applicants and Migrating Unit Spouses). 8

17 2. Employment A clear majority of migrants are looking to find employment soon after arrival in Australia. Many have been to Australia prior to migration, or have family here, and have quite a good idea of what to expect. In figure 2.1 we show how migrants in the different cohorts fared as they looked for work, both six months and 18 months after arrival. Cohort 2 has much higher employment, and much lower unemployment, than Cohort 1, both six months and 18 months after arrival. However, the size of the Cohort 2 advantage has diminished between Waves 1 and 2. All the visa groups, in both cohorts, made large gains in employment over the twelve-month period between the first and second waves of interviews. By the second wave of Cohort 2, the Skilled Australian-linked migrants had the highest rate of employment of all the visa groups, having overtaken Independent migrants. This same group also made large gains between Waves 1 and 2 in Cohort 1, though to a lower Wave 2 level. The age groups that had the biggest increases in employment, both between waves and across the cohorts, were and especially, Indeed, the profile for Cohort 2, Wave 2 indicates that there is no employment disadvantage for older migrants, provided that they are aged no more than their mid-fifties. 3 3 Numbers in the age group are not sufficient to have a material impact on labour market outcomes. They make up about 2-3% of the skilled stream labour force in any wave, and none of the independent stream. In the family stream they make up about 2% of the labour force in Cohort 2 and about 4% in Cohort 1, and in the skilled business they make up about 3% of the labour force in It may be that the greater levels of English proficiency of skilled migrants, the possession of skills in short supply in Australia, and an increased emphasis on education and skills, has made the effect of age less significant. Another important factor in the outcomes reported for older migrants is that many of those in the business stream, who represent the largest number of year olds in Cohort 2, were setting up their own businesses at Wave 1 and then working in them by Wave 2. This contributed to the rise in employment for the migrants in this age group over time. At the same time, the proportion of year old migrants doing mainly home duties declined (from 26% in Wave 1 to 18% in Wave 2). For each cohort and both waves, the better the English, the higher the employment. This positive link between English proficiency and employment is large and systematic. Among Cohort 2, the lower employment of those who do not speak English well arises not from high rates of unemployment, but from low levels of participation in the labour force. Unemployment Cohort 1 and about 3-5% of Cohort 2. Migrants of that age make up about 4-6% of Cohort 1 Humanitarian immigrants and there were none in Cohort 2. There are not sufficient numbers to make any meaningful comparisons of changes from Wave 1 to Wave 2 (or Cohort 1 to Cohort 2). In the 65 plus age group numbers are very small (and generally less than 5 per cell when disaggregated by age and visa category). Of the three categories in which there non-trivial numbers of people aged 65 plus the participation rate is between about 3% across the four Waves for the family stream immigrants. For the Humanitarian category it is zero participation, except in C1W1 when it was 4.6%. 9

18 Figure 2.1 Labour Force Status Percent Employed Unemployed Not in Labour Force Cohort 1 - Wave 1 Cohort 1 - Wave 2 Cohort 2 - Wave 1 Cohort 2 - Wave 2 was much more a cause of low employment for Cohort 1. This suggests that the migration policy changes that have occurred between the two cohorts of migrants to emphasise skills and English language competence for all but the family-reunion and Humanitarian migrants has had a notable impact. Migrants were mostly content to remain with their current main job, after they found one. Perhaps surprisingly, this was little changed after they had been in Australia for 18 months rather than six months. In each case, per cent of migrants who were employed said they were looking for another job: the main reason was to change job rather than to get additional work. The main reasons that people gave for wanting to change their job were to obtain more money, more job satisfaction, use their qualifications and have better career opportunities. These reasons sound very much like those we would expect workers at large to give. Most migrants quite like their work, with at least three-quarters saying that they have a really good job or that it is OK. More (around 10%) say that it is the best job they have ever had, than say that they dislike their work. Overall, the satisfactory labour market outcomes of Cohort 2, that were identified in an earlier report, have been maintained and enhanced in the subsequent 12 months in Australia. Eighteen months after arrival, levels of employment were high, unemployment was low and participation in the labour market was low only for Humanitarian and Preferential family/family stream migrants. A total of 28 per cent had experienced some unemployment in the 12 months between interviews. Importantly, long term unemployment was rare. Very few held more than one job, so the image of the typical migrant having to accept multiple bits and pieces of low paid insecure work to make ends meet is not supported by the picture provided above. Nor did they work especially long hours. While 10

19 some had found it necessary to change their occupation in order to obtain a job in Australia, an equal number had chosen to do so as a new opportunity. In many ways, Cohort 2 migrants looked much like the Australian labour force more generally. They relied on family, friends and employment agencies to find work; they worked a typical range of hours; a proportion wanted to change jobs to get more money or more job satisfaction, or use their qualifications better; and most but not all were satisfied with the sort of work they did. A migrant s prospects of being employed were substantially higher if he was a man and spoke English fluently, but it appears that once the decision has been made to enter the labour force, language is the more important factor. For example, in Cohort 2 Wave 1, while the employment to population ration for males and females was 64 percent and 37 percent respectively, the employment rate (those employed as a proportion of the labour force, i.e. the employed plus the unemployed) was 82 per cent for males compared to 84 percent for females. When considering English language proficiency however, 86 percent of the immigrant labour force with English only or best were employed compared with 83 percent who spoke English very well or well and only 71 percent who spoke English not well or at all. 11

20 3. INCOME I n addition to employment, a second key indicator of successful settlement in Australia is the extent to which recent migrants are able to earn an income sufficient to support themselves and their families. One of the major changes in Government policy towards migrants has been to exclude non-humanitarian migrants from access to social welfare benefits for a period of two years after arrival in Australia. This puts added pressure on migrants to find paid work or satisfactory self-employment. It also puts pressure on people not to migrate if they believe they are unlikely to be able to find work or private sources of financial support for the first two years. We report several perspectives on the level and source of income of recent migrants, and how this has changed. Earnings from wages and salaries are the overwhelming source of income for recent migrants. All the evidence on income and earnings confirms two main themes. These are that Cohort 2 has done better in establishing the basis for financial independence than did Cohort 1 at the same duration of settlement. And an additional 12 months in Australia, between Waves 1 and 2 for Cohort 2, has resulted in increased incomes and earnings. The superior economic outcomes for Cohort 2 is the result of two factors. One is that the characteristics of Cohort 2 migrants were more conducive to success in the labour market: they were on average younger, better educated and had better English language skills. The second is that, even for those with the same attributes, Cohort 2 migrants typically had higher earnings and income than did their earlier counterparts. This confirms what we found when comparing the cohorts after six months in Australia. In most cases, the early advantage has been retained, even if the size of the advantage has diminished for some groups with extra time in Australia. Typically, the levels of income and earnings of Primary Applicants were higher than those of Migrating Unit Spouses. Across the waves of Cohort 2, average earnings rose both because of a rise in the proportion of migrants who had jobs, and a rise in the earnings of those who were employed. There was non-trivial use of government social welfare payments. Part of this arises from the heavy reliance on this support by the Humanitarian migrants. While we cannot be definitive, it appears that a substantial amount of the remaining use of these benefits arises from the eligibility of the spouses of Primary Applicants, who were in Australia prior to the arrival of their migrant partner. Men on average earn more than women. Men, whether considering PAs or all migrants, are also more likely to be employed, especially soon after arrival. 4 Men, as a result, contribute substantially more to the financial independence of migrants than do women, although the women s contribution is still substantial. Employment and labour market outcomes improved more for women between Cohorts 1 and 2 than they did for men. Women in Cohort 2 received higher earnings relative to men if they had a job, and a higher proportion of them were employed. 4 For example, as described previously, for Cohort 2 Wave 1, the employment to population ratio for males and females was 64 percent and 37 percent. 12

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