‘Half of Myself Belongs to this Town’: Conditional Belongings of Temporary Migrants in Regional Australia
AbstractA growing number of temporary visa holders reside in regional Australia, from skilled temporary visa holders to international students at regional university campuses and Working Holiday visa holders. Many of these residents spend prolonged periods of time in regional locations, often alongside groups with other migration and refugee backgrounds, and many hold permanent residency aspirations. This paper contributes to recent scholarship on affective citizenship and place-based belonging through an investigation of the social, cultural and legal dimensions of temporary migrants’ sense of belonging in regional communities. Our analysis of qualitative interviews with regional residents on different temporary visas and local employers and service providers shows that many temporary residents in regional locations develop a feeling of place-based belonging grounded in social relations and shared cultural affiliations as well as the efforts of local stakeholders who are keen to retain migrants in the location. Yet the rights restrictions associated with temporary visas tend to diminish such feelings of belonging and further exacerbate feelings of tenuous belonging for those migrants who are lacking place-based social or cultural connections. We conclude that the multidimensional nature of belonging deserves more attention in the current context of policies that are on the one hand promoting the regional settlement of temporary migrants, whilst on the other hand excluding these migrants from most social rights granted to other taxpayers.
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