PIA welcomes government call for settlement strategy
The Planning Institute of Australia has ‘strongly endorsed’ a federal parliamentary inquiry’s call for the establishment of a national settlement plan, in a bid to guide the growth of the nation’s cities.
The Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities made the recommendation in its report into the Australian government’s role in the development of cities late last month.
PIA National President Brendan Nelson said rising community frustration at the nationally disjointed growth of our cities and regions meant governments and policy-makers needed to consider new ways to ensure that Australia’s cities and regions remained some of the most liveable in the world.
“It’s clear we’re reaching a tipping point in terms of the pressures on our cities, towns and regions,” Mr Nelson said.
In its submission to the cities inquiry last year, PIA called for a National Settlement Strategy, a COAG ministerial planning council, and the appointment of a National Chief Planner.
“We’re exceptionally pleased that the committee has accepted our submissions and virtually replicated all of our recommendations,” Mr Nelson said.
“Our advocacy for a National Settlement Strategy is about enhancing inter-governmental collaboration and cooperation so there is a line of sight from an agreed national vision right down to local land-use plans.
Mr Nelson said that PIA’s call for a National Settlement Strategy, to be formally launched in Canberra later this month, would be the basis for an enhanced partnership between Australia’s three tiers of government, the private sector, and the community.
Meanwhile, a total of $163.4 million in Settlement Engagement and Transition Support (SETS) grants have been announced – funding which will assist newly arrived migrants and refugees to form a stronger connection with their new communities in their first five years in Australia.
Federal Minister for Social Services, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, said 79 organisations across the country will be funded to deliver services in engagement and integration for newly arrived migrants and refugees.
“The SETS program is about helping reduce barriers for migrants so they can fully participate in employment and the community more generally,” Mr Fletcher said.
“People settling in Australia have much to contribute to our society. It is critical that we give them every opportunity to succeed and be part of a stable, prosperous economy.”
SETS replaces the Settlement Grants program which had been in place for more than 10 years.This program fills a gap in the post-arrival period for eligible migrants who do not have family and community support to rely on.
The grants fund activities that are focused on families and individuals and increase community capacity.Services include assisting with English language skills, building employment readiness and encouraging homework for school students.
“It is important that our newly arrived migrants have a strong connection and sense of belonging,” Mr Fletcher said.
“This program will help to build wellbeing, safety and prosperity – to the benefit not only of newly arrived migrants and refugees but also to our entire nation.”
A list of successful recipients will be available at www.grants.gov.au, pending grant agreement negotiations.