Welcoming migrants in rural areas

Article image - Welcoming migrants in rural areas Carly Jordan, Evarist Ndayitwayeko, Wendy Hobbs, Mayor Mary-Ann Brown, Antoinette Ayubu, Emmanuel Musoni.

A recent Welcome Weekend that showcased the Southern Grampians Shire to migrant families currently living in Melbourne and Adelaide was a great success.

As part of the Great South Coast Economic Migration Pilot, the program aims to relocate migrant families who specifically wish to work and live in rural Victoria.

It is a partnership between Leadership Great South Coast, Great Lakes Agency for Peace and Development and iGen Foundation with Southern Grampians Shire Council. 

The aim is to work with each of the families and match them with houses and jobs specific to their skill set.

Over the weekend, twenty people visited the towns of Balmoral, Coleraine and Penshurst and were shown housing, schools, health services and a farm. 

The families were matched with homestays through the generosity of members from the Hamilton and District Rural Australians for Refugees.

The Pilot Lead and Leadership Great South Coast Alumni Ms Carly Jordan said the families would be a welcome addition to the region. 

“The families are originally from Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo and their backgrounds in farming would be a real asset to our communities. 

“After living in Australia for up to 10 years, many also have Australian qualifications in childcare and aged care where labour shortages exist.

“We want to make sure each family has a home, a job and connection to the local community. 

“Our community has been very welcoming and supportive of this program with many relationships with the potential new residents already formed,” Ms Jordan said.

Southern Grampians Shire Council was the first council to embark on the project in southwest Victoria. 

This program has potential to form a basis for similar programs across Regional Australia. 

Southern Grampians Shire Council’s Mayor Mary Ann Brown was delighted with how the weekend went.

“The hospitality shown by our local communities was simply fantastic and the genuine interest shown by the visiting families was very evident. 

“We hope to continue working with these families to help them find jobs and settle in the region over the coming months.”