A new toolkit to help regional communities attract migrant workers based in interviews with “champions of regional settlement” has been launched by a regional Australia think tank.
The Steps to Settlement Success resource provides a concrete action plan with guidance on developing a settlement strategy, consulting with the community, welcoming and hosting migrants, securing housing and employment and fostering community cohesion, as well as highlighting cultural issues.
It advises against ‘surprising the community’ or bringing migrants to a community where there is opposition to newcomers. But it says if communities are ready to embrace newcomers local councils can provide assistance with jobs, apprenticeship opportunities, rental applications and information about community events.
“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,” Regional Australia Institute co-CEO Liz Ritchie says.
“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.”
They include Rwandan refugee Emmanuel Musoni, who helped develop a 7-point-plan incorporated in the resource.
Mr Musoni, Chief Operating Officer at Regional Opportunities Australia, interviewed community champions from towns which have achieved success out of immigration -including Pyramid Hill, Nhill, Mingoola, Tamworth, Bendigo, Mount Gambier, Dalwallinu, Orange, Toowoomba and Rupanyup – to put together the seven-point plan for settlement success.
RAI co-CEO Dr Kim Houghton says there are more than 44,600 job vacancies in regional Australia and many economies are being held back because of a lack of people to fill them.
“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,” Dr Houghton said.
The toolkit also looks at lessons from overseas, including New Zealand’s “putting out the welcome mat” strategy and Canada’s “community consensus” model for attracting overseas immigrants.
“By building on past evidence and experience to address both secondary and direct settlement, skilled and humanitarian migrants and their families, and issues to consider both pre and post-relocation, this toolkit highlights the importance of addressing regional settlement from a holistic perspective,” the resource says.
“It also illustrates the need to involve key stakeholders early on in the process, and to work collaboratively to share learnings and responsibilities.”
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