Regional Migration to take centre stage
Regional towns are renowned for their ingenuity, passion and ability to solve their own problems through hard work and the strength and resilience of their communities.
For many rural communities, observing a slow bleed of population decline while also watching local workforce opportunities go unfilled and local businesses unable to hit their potential is a source of on-going frustration.
Many people have long accepted that this missing workers situation is one that mostly can’t be solved in rural Australia.
At the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) we have been excited to see that across the country, many locally-led migration projects are finding ways to find the missing workers that communities need to stabilise their population and fill local jobs.
In northern NSW, Julia Harpham is leading the charge at Mingoola. This project has seen nearly 30 African migrants move to the town. The local school has been saved from closure and farmers now have a small workforce to tap into. These African families are building a commercial garlic enterprise to help them become self-sustainable, and bringing renewal to the district.
Further south, while setting up commercial ventures in town, David Matthews from Rupanyup in Victoria has been able to sponsor a small group of migrant workers who are now attracting others to this small agricultural community.
The home of Australia’s first community bank, Rupanyup is looking at how the network it helped create nearly 20 years ago, can support regional migration across the country in more than 300 towns.
What is possible has been made abundantly clear just down the road at Nhill where more than 200 Karen migrants now call this town their home. For almost a decade, this community has been helping settle families and filling jobs that have led to the growth of local industries – most notably Luv-a-Duck poultry farm. With a population of just over 2,200 people in Nhill, Luv-a-Duck employs 50 Karen.
In 2015, a report commissioned by resettlement agency AMES – Small Town, Big Returns – found the economic impact of this increased labour supply was an estimated $41.5 million.
Across Australia, permanent migrants who were born overseas are helping to stem population decline and are contributing to the renewal of rural towns.
But in many cases, these regional communities are doing this in isolation and with limited outside support. Many have faced the same common problems and challenges.
Click here to read The Missing Workers which documents stories of success and opportunities for building the future workforce and population of rural communities around Australia.
Sign up to our Regional Futures e-News to make sure you stay up to date with the latest news and information.