Redefining the Mainstream: Local Government, Inclusive Communities

The Second National Conference on Reconciliation, Multiculturalism, Immigration and Human Rights


Mary Leahy
Research Fellow, Workplace Studies Centre, Victoria University
Santina Bertone
Executive Director, Workplace Studies Centre, Victoria University

"Now My Life Can Really Begin" The Impact of the Two Year Waiting Period on Recently Arrived Migrants

Following the enactment of federal legislation in 1997, all non- humanitarian migrants became subject to a two-year non-eligibility period for almost all social security benefits. For their first two years in Australia, these migrants are also ineligible for most HECS and government funded education and training places, and cannot access intensive job search assistance.

This paper reports on one of few research projects to examine the impact of this policy on individual immigrants, their families and on the broader community. Drawing on interviews with immigrants and staff from agencies with significant contact with recent arrivals, and an analysis of data from DIMA's Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Australia (LSIA), the researchers investigate job search and labour market participation, English language skills, access to and participation in education and training, income and support, health, wellbeing and family life. The research raises questions around participation, citizenship and the idea of the welfare safety net.

Mary Leahy was the research fellow on the 2001 ARC funded research project examining the impact of the two-year waiting period on recently arrived migrants and a 1999/2000 project on benefits of diversity management. She is the co-author of a number of refereed publications on diversity management. Mary is currently undertaking further research on cultural diversity in the workplace, and on gender and leadership in Indonesia.

Santina Bertone has been the Executive Director of the Workplace Studies Centre for the past ten years. She has specialised in research about immigrant and women workers, workplace reform, diversity management and enterprise bargaining. She is the sole and joint author of eight books, as well as numerous papers and articles. Her major publications include Diversity and Dollars (1998), The Taxi Driver, the Cook and the Greengrocer: The Representation of NESB People in Theatre, Film and Television (2000) and Migrant in the New Economy: Problems, Perspectives and Policy (2000).

Presentation Type
30 min. Paper

Equipment Requirements:
OHP as alternative
data projector


Deakin Woolstores Campus, Geelong Waterfront
30 November - 1 December 2001