Diverse solution the key to a prosperous future for regional Australia
As seen in The Standard, 6 February 2017
Image: Rob Gunstone. Amanda Hennessy, Leadership Great South Coast, Jack Archer, Regional Australia Institute, Lynda Ford, iGen Foundation, and Emmanuel Musoni, Great Lakes Agency for Peace and Development, facilitated a discussion about increasing populations in regional areas.
Attracting people from overseas to settle in the great south coast region is the key to a prosperous future, a speaker from the Regional Australia Institute says.
Jack Archer, the independent organisation’s chief executive, is travelling around the region to spruik the proposal, visiting areas including Warrnambool, Port Fairy, Portland and Hamilton.
He spoke at Warrnambool’s Lighthouse Theatre on Monday at an event facilitated by Leadership Great South Coast with the iGen Foundation and the Great Lakes Agency for Peace and Development.
“The population discussion has remained quite stuck in regions,” Mr Archer said.
“There’s this overwhelming feeling that everyone is moving to the city, which isn’t true, the numbers don’t stack up. What we’re trying to do is busting a few myths and helping regions focus on the areas that can make a difference.”
Mr Archer said international migration accounted for more than half of Australia’s population growth, but regional areas were missing out.
“The reason is simply we don’t get our share of international migrants,” he said. “About 33 per cent of Australians live in regional areas, but only 20 per cent of migrants come to regions.”
Mr Archer pointed to the successful integration of 160 Karen refugees in Nhill in western Victoria as a case study.
He said the community needed to stop focusing on issues such as young people moving to cities and instead harnessing positive trends.
“Don’t fight demography … we need to focus on trends that are in our favour,” Mr Archer said.
Emmanuel Musoni was born in a refugee camp in Uganda, but he’s forged a life for himself in Australia and he’s passionate about helping others do the same.
Mr Musoni helped found the Sydney-based Great Lakes Agency for Peace and Development, a not-for-profit organisation that assists the settlement of migrants and refugees from African countries including Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The organisation helped three families shift to Mingoola in northern NSW, boosting its population and keeping a local school open.
“The relationship between the community and the families that migrated to Mingoola is really wonderful,” Mr Musoni said.