‘We’re Sending you Back’: Temporary Skilled Labour Migration, Social Networks and Local Community

  • Robyn Mayes


This paper contributes to the emergent literature on the temporal and dynamic constitution of temporary skilled migrant networks, foregrounding under-researched interrelations between migrant and non-migrant networks. It does so through examination of the lived experience of transnational, temporary skilled labour migrants resident in Ravensthorpe in rural Western Australia (WA) who were confronted with the sudden closure of the mining operation where they were employed. As a result they faced imminent forced departure from Australia. Drawing on qualitative data collected in Ravensthorpe three weeks after the closure, this paper foregrounds the role of this shared, profoundly socially-disruptive event in the formation of a temporary, multi-ethnic migrant network and related interactions with a local network. Analysis of these social relations foregrounds the role of catalysing events and external prompts (beyond ethnicity and the migration act) in the formation of temporary migrant networks, along with the importance of local contexts, policy conditions and employer action. The social networks formed in Hopetoun, and associated mobilisation of social capital, confirm the potential and richness of non-migrant networks for shaping the migrant experience, and foreground the ways in which these interrelations in turn can shape the local experience of migration, just as it highlights the capacity of community groups to act as social and political allies for temporary migrants.that would require migrants to depart after a set number of years and instead recommend a pathway to permanent residence based on duration of stay.


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