Did you know SA has the highest economic reliance on its regions of all the states, but also the highest concentration of its population in the city?
I found this statement from Regional Development SA chair Rob Kerin - speaking about the need to fill labour shortages - a real eye-opener.
It illustrates why moves to help support and strengthen regional SA businesses are in the best interests of all South Australians, not just those living in the country. It tells me our state's economy is in the best shape when our regional businesses are thriving.
Related reading:Regional SA may benefit from migrants
But some of our valuable regional businesses are struggling to fill job vacancies, and if there's no solution found to the labour shortage, then these operations will become stagnant, unable to capitalise on opportunities for growth. Or, worse still, they'll start going backwards, and may eventually be forced to relocate to find workers, or even close their doors.
What we need is to be able to find workers who are willing to take the opportunities presented to them with both hands - those who aren't afraid to work hard and who want to contribute to their community. Perhaps we do need to look beyond our shores to fill workforce shortages if no local job seekers are willing to take up the roles on offer.
If the new Steps to Settlement Success toolkit makes the transition easier for both migrants and communities, then it sounds like a fantastic initiative.
We must make our towns feel like home for all who come to live in them.
It's important not to underestimate how big a move it is to relocate a family from overseas into a regional SA community.
Imagine going from a city of a few million people to a rural community of a few hundred or thousand. Where there's no public transport, a small supermarket with an offering heavily focused on the standard Australian diet and a few churches of various Christian denominations are the only places of worship for hundreds of kilometres.
Imagine if, on top of that, the local community was closed off and unwelcoming. That could be the hardest issue to deal with.
In contrast, imagine if all the circumstances were the same, but the community was warm, welcoming and understanding.
If SA is to grow its regional migrant population to fill labour shortages, it is important we don't just fill positions and think the job is done. Instead, we must make our towns feel like home for all who come to live in them.