Social Security for Migrant Workers and Their Families in Australia
SOCIAL SECURITY AND MIGRANT WORKERS: SELECTED STUDIES OF CROSS-BORDER SOCIAL SECURITY MECHANISMS, R. Blanpain, P. Arellano Oritz, M. Olivier & G. Vonk, eds., Kluwer, pp. 187-214, 2014
41 Pages Posted: 2 Sep 2013 Last revised: 29 Sep 2014
Date Written: September 1, 2013
Australia is often identified as an immigration success story. The economic performance of immigrants to Australia in recent decades has been lauded by government and from within academia. The depiction of Australian immigration as highly skilled and economically self-reliant underplays the role of welfare state retrenchment in redirecting the economic support provided to new immigrants by the state towards immigrant families. In this paper, we sketch the provision of social security payments to newly arrived immigrants across the economic and family reunification visa classes and since restrictions upon benefits first began in 1992/3. We also outline what trends towards temporary economic immigration represent for long-term welfare eligibility of new immigrants, and how changing source countries shift expectations around welfare portability and reciprocity for immigrants over the longer term. In doing so, we argue that these recent trends in immigration policy represent a movement away from residual state support for Australian citizens, permanent residents and newly arrived immigrants alike, towards a differentiated system, where familial support is expected for new immigrants but not for others in the Australian labour market. We also sketch the dissonance between this provision and international legal norms. This paper relies upon legal analysis and unpublished statistical data from the Continuous Survey of Immigrants to Australia.
Keywords: immigration, social security, Australia, sponsorship bonds, temporary immigration
JEL Classification: K10, K30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation