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The NSW Settlement Partnership (NSP), a consortium of community organisations, has been approved as a provider of settlement services in NSW under the Department of Social Services’ Settlement Engagement and Transition Support (SETS) program.

SETS delivers core settlement support for humanitarian entrants and migrants in their first five years in Australia, focusing on activities that assist clients to improve social participation, economic wellbeing, independence, personal wellbeing and community connectedness.

Led by Settlement Services International (SSI), the NSP comprises 21 organisations, including SSI and its 11 member Migrant Resource Centres and multicultural services, as well as nine community organisations located around the state, including regional areas.

Among highlights for 2017-18, the NSP provided over 30,000 individual client sessions, 92 leadership training and workshop sessions, and more than 480 immigration assistance sessions.

For the next three years, NSP partners will deliver a range of services under the SETS Client Services and Community Capacity Development streams.

SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis said, “The NSP being selected as providers under the new SETS program is testament to the strength of the partnership and the consortium model.

“The NSP, formed in 2015, was the first of its kind in the settlement sector — a unique and innovative model for the delivery of settlement services. Over the last four years we have seen a consortium that has grown from strength to strength — engaging new ways of collaboration, creativity and connection to our communities.”

A key element to the NSP’s success has been the value placed on local knowledge, with each NSP partner being an expert within its locality and community. They deliver quality, innovative services at a local level that are informed by their in-depth knowledge of community needs.

NSP Partner, CORE Community Services, is based in the City of Fairfield, and home to many people from non-English speaking backgrounds, including recent refugee arrivals from Iraq and Syria.

CORE Multicultural Communities Service Manager, Shama Pande, said, “The SETS program is absolutely paramount in ensuring the successful social and economic integration of newly arrived refugees, migrants and humanitarian entrants. The NSP has brought strength of numbers, local expertise and place-based knowledge.”

Through its collaborative model, the NSP has been able to foster and support smaller generalist and ethno-specific organisations to build their capacity to address community needs in their own right.

Coordinator of the Melkite Catholic Welfare Association, Monica Chahoud, said, “The NSP is so important for small organisations like ours. We work with Arabic-speaking families one by one, addressing their specific issues and helping them find a connection to church, family or community. By working with partners in the NSP, sharing knowledge and experience, there is an opportunity for a range of organisations — large, small, ethno-specific and regional — to learn from each other and provide even better settlement services.”

The SETS program builds on the foundation services of settlement support provided by the Humanitarian Settlement Program by delivering services that foster self-reliance, equitable participation in Australian society and, as a consequence, promotes social cohesion and productive diversity within the Australian community.

That is particularly important in new refugee settlement locations such as Armidale, in regional NSW.

Lulu Tantos, CEO of Northern Settlement Services (NSS), said, “Regional SETS providers like NSS are well positioned to respond to the challenges faced by migrants and refugees settling regionally and are vital access points to mainstream services and the broader community. Regional settlement locations offer opportunities for innovative service models that best meet the needs of new arrivals and the host community.”

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