Migrants key to bridging culture and trade

New research on Australian migrants and links to the homelands they left behind has been launched at Parliament House.

The 'Diasporas in Australia: Current and Potential Links with the Homeland' reports bring together three years of research on the homeland connections of Vietnamese, Tongan, Italian and Macedonian diasporas in Australia.

Victoria University's School of International Business report co-author, Dr Joanne Pyke, said while diasporas traditionally emigrated from the homeland then severed physical ties, diasporas are increasingly transnational and connected to an international diaspora network. 

"This is made possible through the use of social media and the growth of new forms of temporary migration such as travel undertaken for international education and working holidays," Dr Pyke said.

She said diasporas remained strongly linked to their homeland identity and increasingly wanted to act as 'bridges' between Australia and the homelands through diplomatic, trade and professional relationships, but that these links were currently weak and underutilised.

"In order to harness the potential capacity of diasporas as vehicles for nurturing close economic, social, political and tourism links, there is a need for both the Australian and homeland governments to develop diaspora policies and strategic plans," she said.

"For example, the Irish government currently offers money to Irish expatriates who convince foreign companies to trade in Ireland. Other countries, such as India have set up dedicated institutions and created incentives for overseas Indians to invest in India."

The reports co-authored by Dr Pyke and Deakin University Associate Professor Danny Ben-Moshe were launched by the Honourable Bill Shorten MP and the Honourable Richard Marles MP at Parliament House, Canberra on August 15. 

The research was funded as a three year ARC Linkage Project. 

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