Issue 2
Monday, 06 April 2020
Charles Darwin University
E-news
 Dr Stephen Bolaji is developing a model that will assist at “operationalising” opportunities for skilled African migrants in Australia
Dr Stephen Bolaji is developing a model that will assist at “operationalising” opportunities for skilled African migrants in Australia

Australia ‘ignores’ expertise, skills of migrants

By Andrew Hall

In the past five years, the narrative surrounding African immigration to Australia has changed from humanitarian to highly skilled migrants.

According to initial literature exploration by CDU Lecturer in Education (Graduate Program) Dr Stephen Bolaji a “huge” number of African immigrants had gained visas under the Skilled Migration Stream but were struggling to get jobs in their chosen professions.

Dr Bolaji’s study arose from growing concerns of African professionals about the lack of recognition of their skills and qualifications acquired in parts of the world other than Australia.

“This issue has negatively impacted on aspiration for higher education among African-Australian children and other young immigrants living in the Northern Territory and Western Australia’s African communities,” Dr Bolaji said.

“The lack of success post-arrival of African professional immigrants in Australia remains a challenge and it is difficult to shift the focus beyond the challenges.”

Dr Bolaji said that since the abandonment of the Immigration Restriction Act 1901, which became known as the “White Australia” policy that barred non-white immigrants entering Australia – until the actions of the Holt Liberal government began to roll back the policy in 1966 – Australia had become a more multicultural nation.

“The White Australia policy was killed off, finally, in 1973 by the Whitlam Labor government, which adopted a policy of multiculturalism.”

The 2016 Australian Bureau of Statistics Census revealed that 28.5% of Australia's resident population (6.9 million people) was born overseas, of which, migrants from the African continent formed a significant proportion.

“In fact, the World Bank’s Global Skilled Migration Database (2017) reported that Australia and Canada have substantially higher per capita numbers of highly skilled African immigrants, compared to other nations,” Dr Bolaji said.

The data acknowledges that Africans in Australia were diverse, and from a range of African nations, but their resettlement pathways had been quite different.

The research approach for Dr Bolaji’s study used surveys and interviews to elicit information from 100 people in NT and WA.

The outcome of the study will help to construct a model that will assist at “operationalising” opportunities for skilled African migrants in Australia.

Dr Bolaji presented “Hear it from the Horses’ Mouth: Listening to African Professionals in Australia” in a Northern Institute online seminar on 24 March.