Pacific Islanders in regional Victoria

The Pacific Islanders in regional Victoria: settlers, visitors, and overstayers project (2015-2019) investigates the socio-economic situation of Pacific people living in the Mildura/Robinvale area of Victoria.

It explores how different immigration statuses impacts:

  • access to public services
  • interactions within and across ethnic groups
  • trans-local and transnational practices.

The project sheds a new light on Australian regional migration and brings marginalised regional populations into discussions of migration and transnationalism.

Project outputs and engagement

The project aims to address five key research questions:

  1. What are the implications for Pacific Islander communities in the region of their involvement with horticultural industries?
  2. What issues do Pacific Islanders face in mobilising social capital and accessing public services?
  3. What are the experiences and future aspirations of Pacific Islander youth in the region?
  4. What is the nature of Pacific Islanders’ relationships with other ethnic groups in the region?
  5. What trans-local and transnational networks do Pacific Islanders in the region maintain?

We've aimed to answer these research questions and share our findings by:

  • participating in the 2018 Ethic Communities Council of Victoria conference.
  • presenting at the 'South Pacific Islander and Australian Reflections on 'Blackbirding' forum [external link].
  • presenting to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade's public hearing Inquiry into establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia in Mildura. Learn more about Hidden in Plain Sight [external link].
  • reporting research findings on the ARC LP project to Mr Andrew Ford, Australian High Commissioner to Tonga in Mildura.
  • delivering workshops to high school teachers and principals in Sunraysia to share research findings and discuss issues, challenges and aspirations of Pacific youths.
  • regularly engaging with the Pacific Islander Advisory Group (PIAG) to share research findings, collaborate and conduct workshops.

How to engage with us

We regularly attend and welcome opportunities for engagement including:

  • facilitating workshops
  • conference presentations/participation
  • meeting with community leaders
  • media interviews.

Publications and media


The team has collaborated on a number of publications and conference papers with key findings. For more information about the publications please view the profiles of Professor Helen Lee and Dr Makiko Nishitani.


Our research has appeared in the media including:

Please contact us for media opportunities.

Our team

  • Professor Helen Lee (La Trobe University)
  • Dr Makiko Nishitani (La Trobe University)
  • Mr Dean Wickham (Partner Investigator) is an Executive Officer of Sunraysia Mallee Ethnic Communities Council. He has been managing a number of grants and programs to deliver services to migrant communities in Mildura, Robinvale and surrounding areas. Collaborating with other stakeholders, including various researchers and government bodies, he works as an advocate for marginalised CALD communities and has experience in implementing new programs for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants who face difficulties in their lives.

Our partners

  • Sunraysia Mallee Ethnic Communities Council [external link]: Sunraysia Mallee Ethnic Communities Council Inc. (SMECC) is a non-profit organisation. Since 1979 SMECC has been Sunraysia’s leading service for migrant and emerging communities, and helped settle new migrants and refugees into the area.
  • Mallee Sports Assembly [external link]: Mallee Sports Assembly Inc. is a non-profit organisation, which aims to develop, promote and service Sport and Recreation opportunities in the Mallee region. The Assembly currently receives funding from Sport and Recreation Victoria, VicHealth, the Department of Human Services and a number of other agencies to conduct a range of programs.

Funding bodies

The project is an ARC Linkage project (LP 150100385, 2015-2018) funded by:

It is conducted by researchers in the:

Contact us

For further information or media enquiries about this project, please contact:

Professor Helen Lee
T: +61 3 9479 2749