Regions gain plan to fill labour gaps

Regional Australia plan helps meet labour demand with migrants


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HELPING attract - and retain - migrant workers to regional communities will get a boost from a new national toolkit developed by the Regional Australia Institute.

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STEP AHEAD: Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister Tim Whetstone at the launch of the RAI Steps to Settlement Success.

STEP AHEAD: Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister Tim Whetstone at the launch of the RAI Steps to Settlement Success.

HELPING attract - and retain - migrant workers to regional communities will get a boost from a new national toolkit developed by the Regional Australia Institute.

The Steps to Settlement Success was launched by Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister Tim Whetstone at an event in Adelaide today, as part of the RAI Regions Rising roadshow.

RAI co-chief executive officer Liz Ritchie said the new resource gave communities a step-by-step action plan of how to work through the process of welcoming migrant workers.

She said it was largely based on the experiences of several regional towns, including Mount Gambier and Nhil, Vic.

"At its core, the new toolkit is based on interviews with community champions of regional settlement," she said.

"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."

Steps to Settlement Success incorporates a 7-point-plan, co-developed by Emmanuel Musoni, a Rwandan refugee who was raised in a refugee camp in Uganda.

"I decided not to be defined by the refugee life I lived, and since being in Australia, have developed a passion for repopulating regional towns," Mr Musoni said.

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Regional Development SA chair Rob Kerin said SA was experiencing a growing labour and skill shortage in parts of the state.

"We have the highest economic reliance on regions of all states but the highest concentration of people in the city," he said.

He said it was important investment was not lost in regional areas just because there was not an appropriate workforce to capitalise on opportunities, even if this meant looking overseas to source skilled workers.

Mr Whetstone said SA regions required a regular, reliable workforce to help fill the gaps, who could become part of the community.

"To attract immigrants, you've got to have a package, giving a sense of belonging," he said.

"The seven-point plan outlines the best practice and guides communities through welcoming migrant workers."

RAI co-CEO Dr Kim Houghton said locally-led regional migration strategies had a lot of moving parts and required input from many different sectors.

"Each community is very different and this is about matching the right people with the right community," Dr Houghton said.

"In travelling the country, we know there are many regional economies that are being held back because they can't find the people they need to fill the jobs they have.

"Currently there are more than 44,600 vacancies in regional Australia."

Steps to Settlement Success is available on the RAI website regionalaustralia.org.au.

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