Some of the rural towns in Australia have found a way out to population decline and workforce shortages- and now the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) says it’s high time to bring rest of the country on board to solve the problem.
RAI CEO Jack Archer says that with the scattering of regional migration projects across Australia, there has been increase in the small town population by 15 per cent.
He further added, “In many cases, these migration strategies have been locally-led, but carried out in isolation. Now we need to connect the dots and help other rural towns capitalise on the opportunities migrant settlement programs can deliver.”
RAI hosted the More Migrants for Small Town events at Canberra to showcase the success of towns namely Nhill, Pyramid Hill, Mingoola, Biloela, Dalwallinu, Hamilton, Rupanyup, and Nobby.
These towns, at some time were on the verge of declining but are now flourishing, seeing their success, the other rural towns must follow the direction of what has worked and what will work in the future for them.
Pyramid Hill, in Victoria, has a population of over 500 people and out of those 100 is Filipino. This town has now a strong workforce, schools have improved, and construction of new homes has started for the first time in many years.
Tom Smith, owner of Kia-Ora piggery in Pyramid Hill employs 24 migrant staff from the Philippines and hence, is a key person for driving his town’s migration strategy.
The RAI unveiled its newest policy paper- The Missing Workers- highlighting an opportunity for a new national policy.
“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,” Mr CEO said.
The new policy papers addresses the resources required for regional assessment support for new arrivals, employment tools and local toolkit to help communities in successfully helping new migrants into their towns.
He also added that government is planning to do some modification in their policies to make easier for rural employers to employ migrant staff and have a national opportunity to alleviate some of the biggest issues affecting regional Australia.
The regional Australia will be able to stop the declining population by welcoming 2,000-3,000 additional migrants in a year.
These policy changes could be achieved at low cost to governments and we know philanthropic investment may also be an option for other resources needed,” Mr Archer said.
Mr Archer concluded, “Most importantly, we know that many communities in rural Australia are ready to pursue this option – if we can make it easy for them to do so.”