On March 30th, Cultureverse, in partnership with the department of Home Affairs, hosted a forum for skilled migrants at the Bankstown Library and Knowledge Centre. The event began with a diverse spread of food, allowing guests to sample dishes from various cultures, including Lebanese cuisine. Following the meal, attendees were provided with brochures containing QR codes, which directed them to a Government website detailing the process of applying to become a skilled migrant in Australia.
The evening began with a welcome address from Brian Laul, the Vice President of the Greater Cumberland Chamber of Commerce. He introduced the purpose of the meeting and handed over to Hasan Sowaid, the acting regional director for the immigration department. Sowaid stressed the importance of skilled migration to Australia and expressed his desire to see the country expand not only in the number of skilled workers but also in the number of Australian citizens.
Jessica Billimoria, the Head of CultureVerse, shared her personal story, explaining how her husband came to Australia as a result of the skilled migration program. She highlighted the role of migrants in making Australia a better country.
A panel discussion followed, moderated by Hamish Walker, the Director of Immigration Products Development. The panelists included Zane Rebronja, the director of NSW business and skilled migration, Investment NSW, Mia Reyes, the acting director strategic engagement for NSW/ACT, and Servet Brennan, the acting director, business, industry, and regional outreach and engagement. They discussed issues related to their respective portfolios and agreed that skilled migration was essential to the state, particularly in regional areas.
While the panelists expressed positivity towards the skilled migration program, audience members were critical of some aspects. One attendee expressed concern about the inability of people from Afghanistan to apply to the program since the Taliban takeover. Reyes refuted the claim and stated that Australia does not discriminate in the selection process. Another attendee raised the issue of skilled migrants ending up in professions that did not match their qualifications. The panelists acknowledged that the program was not perfect but stated that the government was working to address issues such as these.
The discussion grew emotional when one attendee struggled to hold back tears, describing the difficulties faced by migrants who lacked proficiency in English when looking for work. The panelists agreed that the system was not perfect but promised to continuously work towards improving it and ensuring fairness in the selection process. Rebronja expressed concerns about the program being taken advantage of, with migrants moving from regional areas to cities as soon as possible.
Overall, the forum highlighted the importance of skilled migration to Australia and the need to continually improve the selection process. While some audience members raised concerns, the event provided an opportunity for dialogue and discussion on the issue