Focus on rural migration strategies

RDA Orana Director of Regional Development Megan Dixon and Michael Cooper from Fletcher International were among those in attendance at the Rural Migration Initiative in Canberra.

“Hosted by the Regional Australia Institute, this event is a meeting of representatives from regions across Australia who are keen to tackle workforce
shortages and population decline,” Mrs Dixon explained.

This has been identified by RDA Orana in its Skills Report Position Paper 4: Labour market expansion through Skilled Migration.

“The study relates to exploring the feasibility of using skilled migrant workers to fulfill industry shortfalls.

“However, there needs to be a focus on identifying gaps in areas of skills shortage and a reduction in the fees paid by small businesses to be able to
sponsor migrant employees.”

Business leaders at the conference from the Orana region were joined by representatives of the Limestone Coast, South Australia, the Great South Coast
of Victoria and the Bendigo Community Bank network.

Successful rural settlement initiatives have already been documented by the RAI in Nhill, Dalwallinu, Pyramid Hill and Mingoola. In these communities,
residents and business owners have come together to identify labour needs and build local capacity to attract and retain overseas-born residents.

Mrs Dixon said changes are needed to the way government identifies skills shortages to provide a more accurate assessment for occupations in the Orana
region and other parts of rural and regional Australia. The Rural Migration Initiative aims to support RDA Orana's focus on attracting workers to communities
experiencing workforce shortages and population growth challenges.

RDA Orana is leading the development of a rural migration strategy for the Orana region with the support of various Local Government partners.

“We were pleased to be invited by RAI to be part of this initiative,” Mrs Dixon said.

In the Orana region, businesses in Cobar, Mudgee, Nyngan, Warren and Dubbo are actively seeking migrant workers for vacant positions where they were unable
to attract local employees.

“RDA Orana is committed to supporting and enhancing skilled migration to build the regional economy and fill current skills gaps,” Mrs Dixon said.

*Pictured is Dubbo resident Jose Sunny who successfully migrated to the Orana region in 2008./ENDS