Today saw the publication of the IACC White Paper on the Irish Diaspora in Australia. This is the first in a series of research and policy papers that the Chamber will be publishing and is designed to stimulate debate and participation in the Diaspora conversation.
The Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce, Australia’s leading membership-based Irish Australian business association with members active locally, nationally and internationally is pleased to announce the publication of their White Paper on “Strategies to enhance Diaspora engagement in Australia”
Based on the findings of a sample of 100 respondents who participated on an online survey the paper presents views from our community in Australia and is the first in what will become a regular series of Diaspora surveys and reports delivered by the IACC.
With respondents expressing an overwhelming sense of Irishness, a particularly topical finding was that nearly 72% of respondents saw their right to vote in Ireland as an important part of maintaining their links with Ireland. IACC President Rob Clifford said “Recognising our respondents’ expressed desire to have an elected voice back in Ireland, this presents a clear opportunity for the Irish Government to take steps to strengthen the Diaspora’s links with Ireland”
The main points coming out of the survey were:
- Respondents still strongly identify themselves as Irish - 93% identified themselves as Irish Citizens living in Australia; yet 81% also have Australian citizenship or permanent residence.
- Respondents expressed a very strong desire to be able to vote in Irish elections, or to have (at least) Seanad representation. Many respondents cite examples of other countries with overseas voting rights (e.g. France) and express frustration with (potentially) paying taxes in two countries but unable to vote in either.
- There is significant interest in engaging with the Government, and understanding opportunities to return to or otherwise engage with Ireland, but current channels are not reaching or engaging these parties.
Referring to the survey outcomes, IACC President Rob Clifford said “There is a clear desire from the Diaspora to expand links with Ireland in many ways. It is important that the Irish Government continues to work on solutions and programs that embrace this opportunity”
One area of IACC activity that was highlighted in responses as an example of an initiative delivering positive outcomes for the Diaspora in Australia was our successful Business Mentoring Program (recently featured in the Irish Times, Saturday 26th April 2014) and has seen over 200 participants benefit in its 3 years of operation to date.
IACC Vice President Fergal Coleman oversees the Business Mentoring sub-committee. Fergal said “The Business Mentoring Program is a real, on the ground initiative that delivers real and practical results. These are the programs that need fostering and increased support. Our program is delivering tangible results by helping young people progress their careers, develop professional business skills and access business networks. Senior executives and successful entrepreneurs are embracing it as they see it as a vehicle for reconnecting with Ireland by helping newly-arrived young professionals from Ireland”.