Migration Director Update: June 2020
COVID-19 has overshadowed the entire world in the last few months and has certainly impacted the issue of regional migration both positively and negatively. The negatives are obvious: migration from overseas has halted meaning that many employers in regional Australia who rely on overseas workers are facing new workforce challenges. At the same time, many temporary migrants who are already here have been struggling to make ends meet. We held a virtual interagency meeting with several migrant and settlement organisations from around Australia a few weeks ago, and there are certainly many stories of new arrivals doing it tough.
On the other hand, it’s a positive development that COVID-19 has prompted us all to reconsider our lifestyle and to reflect upon what matters. Businesses have also adapted and are realising that workplace flexibility has many benefits. Remote work has soared, finally meaning that there is a more level playing field between workers living in regional areas and those in cities. We are now seeing a heightened interest across the board from people who are interested in making the move to regional Australia. RAI has shown how it can make financial sense (have a look at our MOVE tool here), and the lifestyle benefits are well-known.
Despite the travel restrictions, RAI is continuing its work to support regional communities to attract and retain migrants in a sustainable way, to meet their workforce needs and assist with population renewal. While Australian borders are closed, secondary migration will take on increased importance for our regional employers seeking their workforce. Secondary migration is where migrants who have moved from overseas to Australia cities move again to regional areas. Our toolkit Steps to Settlement Success which provides the key building blocks for communities to develop their own locally-led migration strategy applies equally to secondary migration.
A pre-requisite to the development of an appropriate attraction and retention strategy is an objective, evidence-based assessment of the strengths, opportunities and challenges of a particular town or region. We are looking forward to working closely with selected regional communities to conduct research into a particular town or region, to provide relevant findings and recommendations. The assessment will enable regional communities to then develop an attraction and retention strategy that is fit-for-place, flexible and takes into account the local context. The assessment is three-pronged, including:
- A Mobility Assessment: RAI will undertake an analysis of the characteristics of people (age, education, incomes, qualifications) moving to and from the town or region, giving insight as to populations being lost as well as the demographic of people who have been attracted to the region and whether they have come from a regional or metropolitan area of Australia, or overseas;
- A Liveability Assessment: this part of the assessment reviews the services and amenities available in the region and any gaps, as well as a comparative evaluation of house prices and the cost of living;
- An Employment Assessment: looking at the main employers and their current and upcoming workforce needs and challenges as well as reviewing other economic or business opportunities which are available.
If this sounds like something your community needs, please get in touch with us. Based on such an assessment, RAI can help develop a strategy to attract people to move to your region.
Migration Director, RAI