The importance of international migrants to regional Australia cannot be overstated. Migrants help stabilise and reverse population decline, counter an ageing population and contribute to social and community renewal. Importantly, migrants also help regional communities to fill workforce and skills needs. Since 2018, the RAI has been researching the contribution that migrants make, studying best practice in regional migrant settlement and actively supporting regional migration. Its policy paper The Missing Workers called for a new national policy facilitating the establishment of a network of priority rural migration areas could enable many rural communities to meet their local labour market needs and provide support for local growth and community renewal. Also in 2018, it hosted the More Migrants for Small Towns event at Parliament House in Canberra to showcase a number towns around Australia which had successfully attracted migrants, including Nhill, Pyramid Hill, Mingoola, Biloela, Dalwallinu, Hamilton, Rupanyup, and Nobby. Other events on advancing regional migration followed in order to continue raising awareness of the need to address workforce shortages in rural communities, and to highlight the strength and success of locally led migration campaigns.
The stories of some successful community-led migrant attraction strategies are found in our Community Narratives.
In 2019, released a toolkit to help steer regional communities in the right direction when they’re looking at their own locally-led regional migration strategies. Steps to Settlement Success: A Toolkit for Rural and Regional Communities was launched in recognition that to have the most successful outcomes, migration strategies need to be properly planned, be place-based and relevant to the local context. They also need to include an emphasis on welcoming new arrivals and fostering social cohesion.
In a simple seven-point plan, Steps to Settlement Success guides communities on what to do, what to avoid and what to be mindful of. The seven steps are:
- Initiating a settlement strategy;
- Organising the local community;
- Welcoming and hosting new migrants;
- Securing employment for new migrants;
- Securing housing for new migrants;
- Fostering community cohesion; and
- Considering culture, customs and environment.
Throughout 2019, the Toolkit was used by RAI to actively support regional communities to develop their own strategies. Through this work, RAI has become more informed of the benefits and challenges to regional migration. It has heard from migrants about the migrant experience of living in regional Australia, spoken with regional employers, regularly liaised with settlement service providers and other agencies and discussed issues with policy-makers. The RAI continues to recognise and welcome the contribution that migrants make to regional Australia and hopes to see more migrants taking up the opportunities which are available in the regions. It provides targeted support and assistance for local Councils and communities who want to know how best to attract and retain migrants to their region.
We encourage you to join our Regional Migration network on Facebook to join the discussion on making migration to regional Australia a success. It’s found at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/532644157507661/?source_id=311708015626470
For more information, contact our Policy Director Shyla Vohra via email or or call 02 6260 3733.