Programmes to attract foreigners to small rural towns in Australia hailed a success

by Ray Clancy on May 28, 2018

in Australia Immigration

It is well known that people moving to Australia don’t want to work in remote areas and prefer to live in the big cities, but a new solution could help rural towns.

Some small towns across Australia have found a solution to their population decline and workforce shortages amid calls for the rest of the nation to follow their example.

Australia Citizens

(Markus Mainka/

Local migrant strategies have been working in locations such as Nhill, Pyramid Hill, Mingoola, Biloel, Dalwillinu, Hamilton, Rupanyup and Nobby, placea that many people in Australia may never have heard from, never mind foreigners.

According to a new report from the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) these projects have resulted in some towns increasing their population by up to 15%.

Pyramid Hill, in Victoria has a population of just over 550 people and around 100 of those are Filipino. The biggest employer in town now has a strong workforce, schools have grown, and new homes are being built for the first time in many years. It even has a new Filipino grocery store.

Tom Smith and his sons own Kia-Ora piggery in Pyramid Hill. Along with his family, he was instrumental in driving his town’s migration strategy. The Smiths now employs 24 migrant staff originally from the Philippines. ‘Staff are your biggest asset and without them, we didn’t have the confidence or the capacity to expand when we needed to,’ Smith explained.

A new report from the RAI highlights 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,’ said Jack Archer, RAI chief executive officer.

He is calling for this kind of policy to be adopted nationwide. ‘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 programmes can deliver,’ he pointed out.

‘From a position of decline, these towns are now thriving. But collectively, we must take stock of what has worked and what will work in the future for other rural towns. We have a national opportunity here to alleviate some of the biggest issues affecting regional Australia,’ he added.

Migrant and refugee settlement agency AMES Australia has welcomed the call. The organisations chief executive Cath Scarth said that done properly regional settlement of migrants and refugees could deliver benefits to both newly arrived migrants and refugees as well as the host communities.

She pointed out that the programme in Nhill added more almost 100 jobs and more than $40 million to the local economy, according to an economic and social impact study. It also stopped population decline, revitalised local services and increased Government funding.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

saravanan September 9, 2018 at 5:25 pm

I am Saravanan from India. I have applied for 476 visa and I wish to work in Australia. I am 21 years old graduate in Electronics and Communication Engineering. I am a fresher. How can I get a job in rural towns like you listed in your comment. Do I really get a job? Does that job relate to my graduate field?


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