Social Security for Migrant Workers and Their Families in Australia

24 April, 2013
1:00-2:00 PM

The Sydney Social Justice Research Network invites you to attend a public seminar:


Social Security for Migrant Workers and Their Families in Australia


Dr Anna Boucher, Government and International Relations, University of Sydney

Emeritus Professor Terry Carney, Faculty of Law, University of Sydney

 Chair: Associate Professor Nicola Piper, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Sydney


 Wednesday 24 April 2013, 1:00-2:00 pm

 Room 612, Education Building, USYD

Abstract: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 This paper relies upon legal analysis and unpublished statistical data from the Continuous Survey of Immigrants to Australia.

About the presenters:

Dr Anna Boucher’s key research interests are in the areas of public policy, with a particular focus on immigration, gender and welfare state concerns. Anna is an active researcher in the immigration field, having co-founded the Migration Studies Unit at the London School of Economics. She holds degrees in Law and Political Science from the University of Sydney and the London School of Economics. She is currently working on two books, one single-authored, Gender, Migration and the Global Race for Talent, which considers the gender implications of highly skilled immigration policy, and another with Justin Gest (Harvard) - Crossroads of Migration: A Global Approach to National Differences, that typologies immigration outcomes globally. Most recently in 2013, she has published articles on immigration and welfare policy in Policy & Politics and the Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis.

Emeritus Professor Terry Carney (LL.B.(Hons), Dip. Crim. (Melb), Ph.D.(Mon)) is Emeritus Professor of Law at the Faculty of Law, University of Sydney, where he was a long-serving Director of Research and past Head of Department.  The author of nearly a dozen books/monographs and over a hundred and sixty academic papers, his recent books include: Carney, T., D. Tait, J. Perry, A. Vernon and F. Beaupert, Australian Mental Health Tribunals: Space for fairness, freedom, protection & treatment? (2011); Managing Anorexia Nervosa:  Clinical, Legal & Social Perspectives on Involuntary Treatment (2006); Social Security Law and Policy (2006) and Bennett, B., Carney, T., & Karpin, I. (eds), The Brave New World of Health (2008). Currently he is a Chief Investigator on 3 Australian Research Council funded studies: ‘Legal and Ethical Preparedness for Pandemic Influenza’; Juror Confidence in Justice:  Democratic participation or deference to authority? and ‘National registration of health practitioners: a comparative study of the complaints and notification system under the national system and in NSW’. 

Associate Professor Nicola Piper is Associate Professor in Human Rights and the Director of the Master Programme in Human Rights and Democratisation (Asia Pacific). Her area of expertise is international labour migration with focus on migration governance from a rights-based and social movement perspective. Among her latest publications are the edited volumes New Perspectives on Gender and Migration: Livelihoods, Rights, and Entitlements (2008), South-South Migration: Implications for Social Policy and Development (with Katja Hujo, 2010) and the co-authored book Critical Perspectives on Global Governance: Rights and Regulation in Governing Regimes (with Jean Grugel, 2007). Nicola is external advisor on migration research at the UN Research Institute for Social Development. She is also co-founder and Vice President of the Global Migration Policy Associates initiative. She is editorial board member of the international peer-reviewed journal Refugee Survey Quarterly and the journal Anti-Trafficking Review.

RSVP: by Monday 22 April 2013 
There is no charge for this seminar.

The Sydney Social Justice Network (SSJN) brings together University researchers working on social justice from a variety of disciplinary perspectives and it fosters collaboration with a wide range of organization in civil society and government. SSJN aspires to be a collaborative research hub that that poses challenging questions, generates participatory discussions and articulates public concerns about social justice.

For further information please visit our website

Location: Room 612, Education Building