Expanding support for young people on the urban fringe and in the regions

Since the mid 2000s, the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments have developed planned approaches to the regional settlement of migrants, refugees and humanitarian entrants. This has been undertaken both as a settlement strategy but also as a regional community development exercise.1 CMY has contributed to a growing body of knowledge about the complex settlement and support needs of newly arrived migrant and humanitarian youth entrants. In 2011, the Victorian Government responded to CMY’s advocacy to support young people’s settlement in regional areas, by funding a pilot project through which CMY could develop a regional presence in two sites. Through this regional presence CMY would build capacity in local services to effectively respond to newly arrived migrant and refugee young people and their families as well as supporting young people directly to increase their sense of belonging and strengthen social, civic and economic participation in local communities.

Analysis and consultations across major regional towns and cities was undertaken to identify two sites, with Inner Gippsland and Ballarat chosen as the areas in which to pilot the program. With the objective of strengthening participation of young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds and their sense of wellbeing and belonging, the CMY regional presence delivery model included direct support and programs for young people, as well as training and capacity building for service providers. The Gippsland office was launched by the Minister for Multicultural Affairs, the Hon. Nicholas Kotsiras at the Gippsland Multicultural Festival in February 2012. The Ballarat office was established later that same year. Both offices wasted no time in engaging local young people in advisory and leadership groups, creating new opportunities for young people’s participation in a range of activities such as sport, social events, arts initiatives and local awareness raising activities. They worked with education providers and with families to strengthen their connection with schools and training, and connections with education and with employers to open up pathways for young people into training and work. Working closely with local partners, including local government, to achieve these outcomes, they also undertook a range of capacity building work with local service providers. They created platforms for young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds to be heard and connect with their local communities.

The regional presence initiative enabled the expertise that CMY had developed in supporting young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds to be applied in regional communities with locally developed programs adapted to meet the specific circumstances and community’s needs. Today, the Ballarat and Gippsland CMY offices are strongly embedded within the local communities.

1AMES Research and Policy Unit (2011), Regional Settlement: An analysis of Four settlement locations in Victoria. Accessed 10 August, 2023: