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PART III: COMMUNITY STUDIES

Part III: Community Studies
Project Method and Scope
Many of the social costs and benefits of migration to Australia are either unquantifiable, or not measured, as illustrated by the regional and national statistical analysis contained in Chapters 2 to 6. To fill the data gaps and explore the qualitative dimensions of the social costs and benefits of migration, the CARSS research team undertook a series of focus groups in four communities – two in regional Australia and two in East Coast capital cities of Australia.

Choice of Study Locations
Toowoomba and South Brisbane in Queensland and Shepparton and Darebin in Victoria were selected by the Research Advisory Committee. The selection of these locations reflects a variety of settlement histories and experiences, both positive and negative in both metropolitan and regional Australia. The selection was guided by the following considerations:

• settlement history of the area—new, established or undergoing transition
• source countries of migrants—changes over time
• settlement experiences of migrants—positive, negative, mixed • impacts on existing population—positive, negative, mixed • service responses to migrant influxes over time—from government departments and agencies, community groups, and

• policy imperatives and the role of government.

Methods of Recruitment
A mix of sampling methods were used to recruit respondents for focus group interviews: the use of public directories, local government community organisations and telephone books. After exhausting these directories to recruit respondents the team used targeted sampling and general advertising to fill gaps in our recruitment strategy. A stratified sample design was used to proactively target respondents to reflect a cross-section of the area’s population. In each area civic leaders, representatives of the major employers, leaders of ethnic groups and charities, the local council, local professionals, local media, police and church, teachers, human services and community workers were sought for interview.

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The Focus Group Instrument
Focus group interviews provide a rich source of data that compliments and adds richness, character and specificity to the broad quantitative picture. The focus group interviews aim to unearth a rich array of information about the positive and negative localised social impacts of migration to Australia. To maintain consistency across the conceptual, quantitative and qualitative components of the study, the focus group instrument was organised around the four main measures of social impact: human capital, social capital, natural capital and produced and financial capital. Questions were composed around several key themes: the impact of migration on local culture and diversity, formation of social networks and changes in neighbourhood, patterns of crime and justice, experiences at work, in education and employment, involvement in civil society, and broader impact on economy, business and productive diversity.

The size of the focus group varied from two to eight. The mean size was four. This variation was due largely to the availability of participants and unforseen events (such as traffic jams) that led to some participants not being able to attend the focus group at the last minute. Each interview went for around 90 minutes. Most went over time as participants wanted to continue the conversation. Two researchers were present at each group – one to observe and take notes, the other to trigger responses using the instrument as a guide. All interviews were recorded for the purposes of transcription. Each participant signed a consent form and were given a guarantee that their identities or any individually identifying information would remain confidential. The study underwent ethical clearance before the collection of any data. The basic methodology of focus group design was to use a number of trigger questions (with embedded follow up questions) to facilitate responses. A certain amount of spontaneity and uncertainty characterises this method. Hence not all questions were asked of all groups. However every participant was given the opportunity to sum their perceptions of the costs and benefits of migration to Australia.

Focus Group Composition
The qualitative methodology used a number of sampling strategies aimed to capture a wide variety of views from a cross section of community, volunteer welfare and government organisations. The sampling targeted respondents from a range of backgrounds, professions, community or interest groups who could also provide insider knowledge around two of the major themes of the report, namely the impact of migration on human and social capital. Potential respondents and organisations were grouped under the following Human or Social Capital clusters of potential informants:

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Group 1:

Human Capital
1.1
1.2
1.3

Group 2:

Health and Medical Professionals
Workplace Training, Educational Professionals and Childcare
Workers
Leisure, Clubs and Sporting Associations

Social Capital
2.1
2.2
2.3

Community Welfare, Social Work and Justice Sector
Professionals
Local Council, Public Housing, Migrant and Civic
Representatives
Cultural, Philanthropic and Religious Organisations

Limitations of the method
While focus group interviews can generate a rich array of qualitative data it cannot be generalised to broader population. Nevertheless surprisingly similar responses and common themes emerged across the four communities. There were also some costs and benefits specific to certain locations. It is common in social research to use multiple strategies to explore research questions as a way of triangulating findings (Punch, 1998; Liamputtong, Ezzy, 2004:40-41). The ensuing analysis of the community case studies has combined focus group data with local reports, publications and secondary material as a way of triangulating the findings. To make the data more robust, the analysis also refers in places to supporting quantitative data from previous chapters where available.

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7: Shepparton
7.1

Background

Shepparton, a regional city of around 27 000 people, is located about 180 km inland from Melbourne. Around 12 per cent of the population as at the 2001 Census were born overseas (ABS Local Area Profile Data, 2001). This figure does not adequately convey the diverse multicultural composition of the community (Shepparton Council Plan, p. 7). Descendants of migrants from Italy represent one of the largest identifiable ethnic groupings in the district, estimated to comprise around 10 000 including second and third generation family members (Emilio Fiorenza, 2005). Shepparton is also home to many descendants from Greece, Macedonia, Turkey, and Albania whose parents and grand parents immigrated to the district in the early twentieth century (Fiorenza 2005). Since that time there have been successive waves of migrants from a variety of countries – including Middele Eastern Counties, the Philippines, India, Germany and New Zealand (Fiorenza 2005). Some of the descendants of these migrants participated in the focus groups. In 2005 and 2006 a number of African families settled into the area sponsored under the regional humanitarian refugee programme. Over the last six years a growing number of humanitarian migrants from Iraq who fled Saddam Hussein’s regime have been drawn to Shepparton to live and work.

As a result of this population mix, and the district’s relatively long history of migrant settlement (Fiorenza 2005), Shepparton has earned a reputation nationally for being a harmonious and successful multicultural centre. It is an attribute which many citizens are proud of. As one citizen noted: I’ve lived and worked in the greater Shepparton area for 20 years, and I’ve seen a lot of different groups come in that time, and I think this is just a fine example of multiculturalism…it’s really quite outstanding…like the mosque; no one could have even known there was a mosque until recent world events. They were quietly going about their business, and quietly exercise their religion…It’s a fine example probably to the rest of Australia to take look and see how all the services have worked together and everybody’s educated to the role of everybody else. (1/3)

7.2

Benefits specific to Shepparton

Resilient community brimming with social capital
The enormous contribution that successive waves of migrants have made to building Shepparton’s robust levels of social capital and informal support for each other can hardly be over-estimated. Each wave of migrants have acted as bridges for the next – welcoming them into their community and assisting their cultural integration in a multitude of ways. The contribution of migrants to the local community covered just about all facets of activity. 108

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You can live here, and never travel, and have the whole connection with the world, and learn about different cultures. So I think that this is great.

Social capital refers to the relations of trust, cooperation and mutual aid that are fostered by “norms and networks of civic engagement” (Putnam 2000). A distinctive feature of Shepparton is that it is one of the few regional areas in Australia where ethnic social capital has been able to accumulate over three generations or so. The first arrivals – Albanians, Italians, Macedonians, Greeks – established the rudiments of infrastructure facilities for those who came later. Over a period of time this network evolved into an impressive range of voluntary supports that include such things as accommodation, employment, child care, financial support, and general advice to members. The critical importance of such informal structures to members was underlined by one interviewee:

In our community, because we are here as a community, if they [Filipino migrants] have a problem, they always come to our community, and we give them support, and you know, give advice and everything. That’s what we are here for – we are community; we are all in one. (4/2)

During the post-war period the growth of group specific social capital gradually expanded to embrace much of the surrounding Australian born community. The need to pool resources played a significant role in this development. One recollection from a first generation migrant illustrates how this often occurred: You know when you said it was the migrants – we built this place – it wasn’t just the migrants; it was the migrants plus the ones that was already here – of doing things together, and sharing the knowledge and skills of each other. I’m just thinking, like, of a very simple one. The Tatura man – one of the biggest tomato growers in Australia – how he worked together with a neighbour who was Anglo-Saxon. And sharing with each other, because he had wonderful skills in the tomato industry….But he didn’t know about the water tables – the salinity – where his neighbours did….the two of them doing it together made that industry grow. (6/2)

Linkages between specific ethnic groups and the Australian community gradually merged into a broader umbrella structure which embraced the Shepparton community as a whole. Local disasters certainly acted as a catalyst in promoting this outcome:

In my experience, when we have had a crisis in the Shepparton region – floods, fires – it doesn’t matter what we look like or what language we spoke. We were all there filling those bags of sand to build up the river. It was the flood in 1983 – it was all of us there helping each other. Out came the cup of tea, out came the pie, out came the Greek thing, you know….I have seen, in times of need, of stress, of fear, people have united and become very strong. (6/2)

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An important element in building cohesion across disparate migrant groups has been the conscious effort given to cultivating reciprocity on the part of new arrivals by already settled residents. One well established overseas born woman provided an invaluable insight into how this process actually worked. She recounted the story of helping the wife of a possessive husband to become involved in a local women’s group:

[The wife said,]’How can I ever repay you – anything [XX] – just name it!’ I said, ‘I do have a condition, and I do want you to do something for me’. ‘Ok, what is it? I hope I can do it’.
‘Promise me that you will help another migrant in any way’. And she says, ‘But I’m not like you, what can I do?’
I said, ‘What about a smile when you see a migrant person down the street, even someone you see in a shop’.

Multiplied a score of times, it is not difficult to see how such a simple request paid substantial dividends over the longer-term. These forms of civic mindedness foster social attachment and inclusiveness and thus build valuable bridging social capital from one migrant group to the other and with the host community. Shepparton was brimming with it.

Certainly there is a strong sense of coherence and connection across ethnic communities at the grass roots level. The holding of the annual Mardi Gras where all groups enthusiastically participate is clear evidence of this. Involvement with the settlement of new migrants – particularly humanitarian cases – is high. One volunteer estimated that he put in 30 hours of unpaid work each week. There are around 120 volunteer home tutors in the district who work without pay. Moreover, there is an active effort by volunteers to keep the community informed and educated about the nature of new groups settling in the town. The local media helps considerably in this respect by providing comprehensive and supportive coverage of ethnic affairs. People give generously. One interview noted that in 2005 (after extensive publicity), within hours of arrival of the first two African families we had four class room sized rooms full of donations.

Yet the evolution of ethnic social capital in Shepparton has had difficulty in creating more formal community-wide institutional structures: The Ethnic Council was formed in 1977. At first the Council consisted of only a few groups but expanded over the following decade to become representative of all ethnic bodies in Shepparton. The role of the Council has been to negotiate on behalf of all groups with local, state and federal governments, and to attract and disseminate available funding. In 1990, however, a significant portion of the Italian community in Shepparton split from the Council and established the Italian Services Advisory Council to cater for their specific requirements (Fiorenza 2005: 9 – 12). The Ethnic Council continues to be the pre-eminent organization speaking for ethnic interests. It also receives distributes the bulk of government funding allotted to ethnic 110

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residents. But the split between the two organizations has undoubtedly eroded the ability of the ethnic community to speak with a unified voice. Though ethnic citizens are members of bodies such as the Shepparton Chamber of Commerce, there are no ethnic councillors. Only one ethnic candidate has stood in the course of the last three elections (2000; 2003; 2005). Moreover, despite acknowledging that Shepparton has a strong migrant presence, Council publications indicate that there are few services and activities which are specifically oriented to the needs of ethnic groups. Indeed, Council publications, whilst acknowledging the migrant presence, has very little to say about their role in, and contribution to, the community (Coomes 2005; GSCC 2005a; 2005b; 2005c; 2005d). The Goulburn Murray Regional Migration Programme is a notable exception. This programme was established as a joint initiative of the Greater Shepparton, Moira and Campaspe councils under the State Government Regional Migration Incentive Fund.

Overall, the strength of Shepparton’s social capital rests on the depth and extent of its informal grass roots networks, which flourishes because of the strong multicultural presence in the community, rather than through more institutionalised forms of authority and influence.

Regional cultural diversity and creativity
I think it’s a great benefit to Australia to have migrants come to the country – all of our lives because we’ve been given such an insight into the different religions, different foods, different culture –like lots and lots of different things. (2/2)

The general extent of the migrant contribution the cultural diversity and creativity of the district was quite well brought out by this observation: As a musician I play at many, many functions. A couple of weeks ago I did a Filipino night. I do functions in all different places in Victoria, and I sit down sometimes and listen to the bands in these towns, and then councillors, and all that speak. They speak about culture of the Italians, or Spaniards, Filipinos, or Greeks or Macedonians. And I listen to these people talking. It’s always a very, very positive thing – what these people contribute to their towns, their work, and the genuine aspect of these people is really apparent. You can see the mayors and the councillors voice it – positive. (5/3)

Productive diversity and economic prosperity for regional Victoria It is widely acknowledged that the migrant population has contributed substantively to diversifying and expanding the retail and industry sectors of the town. One interviewee estimated that 20 percent of businesses in Shepparton were owned by migrants. This figure rose to 40 percent if

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professional occupations were included. Additionally, the influx of migrants has attracted new services in health and education that benefits the community as a whole. As one woman noted:
Shep’s well known for one of the region’s increased baby booms, and we’re getting new shops here because of it, like Cotton Kids and Pumpkin Patch. All these new shops are coming to our area, specifically because we’ve had growth in birth rate. And also, by having migrants come, it increases the number of services.

We now have more female doctors because we have people covered up in burkas. If we didn’t have them, we wouldn’t have as many female doctors. … If I [can] take my young granddaughter, or my daughter, to a female doctor, I’d much prefer that… So to me that’s a real big thing….I don’t feel so vulnerable (5/5)

For many decades migrants were attracted by the opportunities available in the agricultural sector surrounding Shepparton which has traditionally grown fruits and vegetables, as well as supporting a strong dairy industry. The Goulburn Valley is widely known the ‘food bowl of Australia’. Along with Campbell’s Soups, the SPC and Admona Fruit processing plants, these industries provide seasonal work for migrant and resident workers in the region. During the post-war period migrant employees were critical in assisting the expansion of Shepparton’s manufacturing and retail trades sectors. Most recently health, community services and education have emerged as major activities in the district. The critical contribution that migrants have made to the composition of this regional economy was succinctly summed up by one resident:

…migration is what makes Shep the vibrant place it is today. It is the abundance of work in agriculture that drew people to this place to begin with. But now we have moved on. We have an amazing commercial centre. Those migrants – probably one of the greatest things they have provided is employment. It is because of that influx that we now have a university (5/5)

Local Australian business people also understand the multiplier effect that ethnic activity can bring; ‘By having such a multicultural community, and population that’s increasing, our business links with the rest of the world is just going to improve. (5/4)

Tolerance for local expressions of ethnic and religious cultural diversity There appears to be very little prejudice towards migrants in Shepparton, although some of new migrants to the community from middle eastern countries were adamant they were persistently discriminated against in the local labour market. Only one interviewee complained about racial prejudice.

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The Shepparton branch of the Australia First Party mounted some unfavourable publicity about migrants in the wake of the September 11 attacks. However, residents seem to have paid them no heed. Through a fine example of bridging capital, the local multicultural centre introduced a number of middle eastern male migrants to members of the local RSL and Lions Clubs. ‘See he’s no terrorist’. The town and surrounding district, by all accounts, have been overwhelmingly tolerant and accepting of cultural differences and have shown very little if any of the predisposition to racism as seen in other parts of the country.

7.3

Costs and issues specific to Shepparton

All groups agreed that the social benefits far outweighed the costs of migration to Shepparton. Nevertheless, the focus groups identified two short-term social costs as having a particular impact on the Shepparton community.

Stretched regional infrastructure
Generally, new arrivals in Shepparton have been ‘extremely lucky’ in terms of the infrastructure support they receive in terms of accommodation, child care, family and resettlement services supplied by the Commonwealth but delivered through the local Migrant Adult Education Centre. This has been a critical factor in assisting families in their transition to an unfamiliar location. More recently, however, there are indications that available resources are not keeping up with demand. The most significant area in this respect is lack of childcare support. Without such support mothers are unable to look for work, to begin with, and to accept it if offered. It was also considered that availability of interpreter services could be greatly improved. Ultimately if this infrastructure is not sufficient to meet local demand its specialist provision imposes a substantial economic cost on the community as a whole. Such costs are immediately evident in the shortage of interpreters where qualified people must frequently be brought from Melbourne (at about $600 per visit) to translate languages such as Swahili.

Understaffing in the Shepparton area, moreover, appears to be taking its toll on multicultural networks. One salaried officer went so far as to state that: This community is very caring and very kind [but] it is exhausted in many areas. There is compassion fatigue going on here.

Inevitably, individuals have been affected at a personal level: It’s costing people out in those offices, it’s costing them their well-being. Like, we’ve got a person off sick at the moment because of the stress she’s been put under by the number of people who have arrived here that she’s settling.

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Absence of established local networks among newly emergent migrant groups Attempting to settle new migrants without the back-up of an existing community that can provide essential support in the absence of an established ethnic community can result in substantial additional economic costs. This point was made in contrast to recently arrived skilled workers from Albania who have a strong local Albanian community network in Shepparton. In bringing out those sort of people, we can accommodate them. There is no costs. We provide the accommodation; we provide the transport; we take care of them. But if you’re going to bring people from everywhere else, you’ve got all the headaches – you’re going to have to find accommodation, find someone to manage them, and someone to take them to and from to the job….you’ve got to look at the actual benefits as to why and how they will fit into a particular industry, which is very, very, important.

7.4

Overview

Participants in the Shepparton focus groups expressed very few concerns about the social costs associated with migration. The social costs were mostly regarded as short term integration issues that related mostly to the newest arrival of humanitarian migrants. There were two widely perceived social costs. There was a risk of racial tension forming between patriarchal cultures of some new migrants and local residents, particularly through the schooling of children and the clash of culture between middle-eastern Muslims and local residents over the role of women in society. There was also a perceived risk of long term welfare dependency occurring among newly arrived humanitarian migrants, should they fail to acquire jobs. The acquisition of English fluency among newly arrived migrants was regarded as critical to preventing this from happening. Skilled migrants bought into the region expressed disappointment at the lack of recognition of their overseas qualifications, and the long haul ahead of them to upgrade their skills and enhance their English fluency. The Shepparton community however is a testimony to the long term benefits of a society built on successive waves of migration. In terms of building a resilient community brimming with social capital and productive diversity, the social benefits of migration certainly far outweigh the social costs.

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CHAPTER 8: TOOWOOMBA

8: Toowoomba
I think that regional migration is great – but I have concerns over the secondary support. So the primary support – finding someone a house, you know the basic needs – but then the education, health, policing stuff.

8.1

Background

Over the last six years Toowoomba has become the host community for a growing number of migrants settled through the regional resettlement programme. In response to this the Toowoomba City Council commissioned a study into its Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) population (Upham and Martin 2005:1). The report, based on focus groups with key stakeholders, and a survey of 228 CALD residents, found that while there was a network of community service providers assisting the CALD community in the city, they were ‘struggling to cope with the demands of newly arrived CALD people, particularly the Sudanese population’ (Upham and Martin 2005:1). Employment, transport, infrastructure and housing were the major issues identified by the study as adversely impacting upon Toowoomba’s CALD community. Lack of employment opportunities, inadequate public tra...

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proactiv probabl problem process produc product profess profession profici profil programm progress project promin promis promot prompt propaganda proper proport propos prospect prosper protect proud prove provid provis public publish pumpkin punch purpos pursu put putnam qld qualif qualifi qualified/educated qualit qualiti quantit queensland queri question quick quiet quintessenti quit quot racial racism racist raft rais rang rank rapid rare rate rather re reach reaction read readi readili real realist realiz realli reason recal receiv recent recept reciproc reckon recogn recognis recognit recollect record recount recruit redneck reduc reduct refer reflect refuge refus regard regardless regim region regular relat relationship relay relev reli relianc reliant religi religion remain remark remov rent repay repeat repetit repli report repres represent reput request requir research reservoir resettl resid residenti resili resourc respect respond respons rest restaur result resum retail retrain return reunion revert review rich right ring rise risk river road robert robust role room root rose rotari rough round rsl rude rudiment rule run rural russian s/he saddam safe safeti said sake salari saleam salient salin salvat sampl sand satisfi saw saxon say scenario scheme school scienc scientif scope score scout seaboard seam seamless season second secondari section sector secular secur see seek seem seen select self self-contain sell semi semi-skil send senior sens sensit sentenc sentiment separ septemb seri serious serv servic set settl settlement settlement/integration seven sever sex sgp share sheep sheet shep shepparton shift ship shock shop short short-term shortag shortcom shoulder shouldn show shown sick side sign signag signific similar simpl simpli sinc singl sinhales sit situat six sixth sizabl size skill skin slowli small small-mind smaller smell smile smooth so-cal social socialis societi socio socio-econom socio-spati solut solv someon someth sometim son sophist sore sort sought soup sourc south southern space spaniard spanish spatial spc speak speaker special specialist specif spectrum speech spend spent sphere spice split spoke spoken sponsor spontan sporad sport spot spread sri st staff stage stagnat stakehold stand standard start starv state statist status stay steep stem step stick still stock stone stood stori strain strang strategi stratifi stream street strength strengthen stress stretch strict strident strike string strong stronger structur struggl stuck student studi stuff subject submiss subsequ substant substanti subtleti suburb succeed success succinct sudan sudanes sudden suffici suitabl sum superfici supermarket suppli support suppos supremaci supremacist sure surpris surround survey surviv suspect suspicion swahili sydney synagogu syndrom system tabl tackl tafe tagalog take taken talk tall tamil tamworth tangibl target tatura taught tax taxat tea teach teacher team teas teenag telephon tell templ tend tendenc tension term terror terrorist testimoni thank theme therefor thing think third though thought threat threaten three thrive throughout throw thumb thus ticket tight time tis today togeth token toler toll tomato tonga tongan took toowoomba topic torn tortur touch tourism toward town township trace track trade tradit traffic train trampl tranquil transcript transfer transit translat transport trash trauma traumatis travel treat treatment tremend tri triangul tribal trigger troubl true truli trust tuition turkey turn tutor twelv twenti twentieth twenty-first two two-way type typic ultim umbrella un un-coordin unabl unanim unbias uncertainti under-employ under-product underemploy undergo underlin undermin underpin underscor understaf understand undertaken undertook underw undoubt unearth unemploy unequ unfair unfamiliar unfavour unforseen unifi uniqu unit uniti univers unless unlik unpaid unquantifi unreason unsettl unskil unsuccess upbring upgrad upham upon urg us usa use usual util utilis valley valu valuabl vari variat varieti various vast ve veget veil vibrant victoria victorian vietnam vietnames view vii violenc visa visibl vision visit visual vital vocal vocifer voic volunt voluntari vote vulner wake walk want war war-torn ward warmer warstricken wasn wast watch water wave way wayn wealth wear websit wed week weigh welcom welfar welfaredepend well well-b well-educ well-organis well-qualifi wellposit went west western whatev whatsoev whenev wherea whether whilst whim white whole whose wide wider widespread wife will within without woeful wog woman women won wonder woolloongabba word work worker workforc workplac world worri worst worth would wouldn wrong wrote x xx yeah year yes yet young youth zealand zone