Multiculturalism and Diversity

Humanitarian settlement needs

Fairfield City Council continues to celebrate the City’s multiculturalism as one of its greatest strengths. This is reflected in Council’s motto, ‘Celebrating diversity’.

We have a rich history of migrant and refugee settlement over many decades and we receive an average of 1,000 humanitarian entrants into our community each year – the most of any LGA in Australia.

However, from January 2016 to August 2017, the number of new arrivals in Fairfield City has increased five-fold to more than 7,000. This is one-fifth of Australia’s total refugee intake and more than half of the NSW intake (DSS data, September 2017).

This increase is in response to the Federal Government’s announcement in September 2015 that it would make an extra 12,000 humanitarian places available to people displaced by conflicts in Syria and Iraqi.

While Fairfield City will continue to welcome refugees into its community, the significant increase in new arrivals in such a short timeframe is a new challenge, putting a strain on existing services and resources.

Settling 7,000 newly arrived refugees in just 20 months is equivalent to creating a whole new suburb. All new suburbs require planning and investment from the three tiers of government.

New residential developments generally attract contributions for infrastructure such as roads, footpaths, parks, sporting facilities, libraries and other community services. This ensures existing facilities are not over-stretched and other residents are not impacted.

Due to the nature of our new arrivals since January 2016, however, no large-scale housing developments are being constructed in our community and so no developer contributions are available.

Fairfield City Council is therefore seeking assistance and support from the State and Federal Governments to help fund important infrastructure and services to support our rapid increase in population.

What do we need?

Fairfield City Council has received no extra funding from the State or Federal Governments in support of the increased refugee settlement population in our City.

The Federal Government allocated $827 million to support the intake of humanitarian entrants from Syria and Iraq, including $142 million for additional settlement services. The NSW Government allocated $146 million over four years to support the additional intake, with a focus on health, education and improving employment opportunities.

At the time of allocation of these funds, the Federal Government was anticipating a fair distribution of humanitarian entrants across Australia. No one imagined that one LGA would receive such an intense concentration of new residents in just over one year.

Despite the funding allocations from Federal and State governments, it is not just the funded settlement services that refugees access. There are many other unfunded services that provide settlement support as well, and they are all straining under the immense pressure to appropriately settle and integrate our newest residents.

Council is therefore seeking Government assistance to enhance local infrastructure and help improve social cohesion. This includes funds for:

  • Improving local job creation and employment outcomes
  • Building affordable local housing
  • Improving local health and education facilities
  • Maintaining and providing new public facilities such as libraries and open space areas
  • Better coordination of services and a dedicated settlement coordination position at Council.

Fairfield City will always welcome new humanitarian arrivals and celebrate diversity. However we also need to ensure there are adequate facilities and services for our whole community. We need to continue building on our social, cultural, commercial and environmental strengths.

The community vision, identified in our Fairfield City Plan is that “We are Fairfield City – a welcoming, safe and diverse community where we are proud to belong, invest and prosper.”

We want our new arrivals and existing community to succeed, together.

It is vital that Government assistance is provided so that Fairfield City Council can continue to deliver on its commitment to services for everyone in our community, no matter how long they have lived here.