Attracting migrants made easy

By McIvor Times

REGIONAL communities now have access to a new national toolkit to help attract migrant workers after the release of Steps to Settlement Success in Adelaide.

Developed by the Regional Australia Institute (RAI), co-CEO Liz Ritchie says the new resource gives communities a step-by-step action plan of how to work through the process.

“Thanks to the generous support of the Scanlon Foundation, this national toolkit has been produced to make it easier for communities wanting to welcome migrants to their towns to help alleviate workforce shortages and grow population,” Ms Ritchie said.

“At its core, the new toolkit is based on interviews with community champions of regional settlement. Most of these people had little guidance on how to make it happen and developed their own locally led regional migration strategies – some dating back 10 years.’’

Steps to Settlement Success incorporates a seven-point plan, co-developed by Emmanuel Musoni, a Rwandan refugee who was raised in a refugee camp in Uganda.

Mr Musoni interviewed ‘community champions’ in places such as Pyramid Hill, Nhill, Mingoola, Tamworth, Bendigo, Mount Gambier, Dalwallinu, Orange, Toowoomba and Rupanyup.

David Matthews, director at Bendigo and Adelaide Bank and third-generation farmer, has successfully sponsored a small group of migrant workers who are now attracting others to the small agricultural community of Rupanyup, Victoria.

“Australia has some great cities but it also needs great regions. A vibrant and successful Regional Australia is critical to Australia’s economic future,” Mr Matthews said.

“We know that population decline is a challenge for many regional towns. But we can attract the right skills – across many sectors – by connecting and empowering migrants in our regions and providing guidance on community-led migration strategies. And if we do this we will drive prosperity across all four corners of Australia.’’

RAI co-CEO Dr Kim Houghton says locally led regional migration strategies have a lot of moving parts and require input from many different sectors.

“Each community is very different, and this is about matching the right people with the right community,” Dr Houghton said.

“In travelling the country, we know there are many regional economies that are being held back because they can’t find the people they need to fill the jobs they have. Currently there are more than 44,600 vacancies in regional Australia.

“In some areas, regional migration is a solution, and in others it may be about implementing regional learning systems to ‘grow workers from within’. But this takes time, planning and collaboration.

“We hope the new toolkit will be a useful resource for those regional communities looking to welcome migrants to fill local jobs, but more importantly keep them there.’’

The toolkit was launched in Adelaide last week by Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone, as part of the RAI’s Regions Rising national roadshow.

Steps to Settlement Success is now available on the RAI website