Migration: The Oriental Hotel, Mudgee

Hotelier Des Kennedy has worked in hospitality for many years, and says hiring migrant workers was a good decision for his business.

As the owner of the Oriental Hotel, Mr Kennedy took over the 154 year old establishment in 2003, offering food, beverages and accommodation.

The business has evolved from its traditional roots to provide modern conveniences such as a bistro and gaming area to the people of Mudgee and the many tourists who flock to the Orana’s primary wine-growing region.

Customer service at a local level comprises 65 per cent tourism and 35 per cent local people. Mr Kennedy employs 40 staff, including casual employees. However, like many publicans, he finds it difficult to hire chefs and says there is a huge shortage in the industry.

“In the chef field, you can advertise until you are blue in the face – you won’t get anyone. There is a huge shortage of chef trades.”

When he heard that he could hire migrant staff to fulfill those needs, he jumped at the opportunity.

Although there have been challenges in the process such as administration and communication, hiring his new Korean and Bangladeshi employees has been a sound investment.

“Migrant workers are willing to work, they are quick learners and they have a good work ethic. Having them takes the pressure off the other chefs and we now have a full team of chefs.

“It’s also pleasing to see them move to Australia and be able to assimilate and get themselves a better life. Its pleasing to see them have a better life in Australia.”

Mr Kennedy said that working with RDA Orana had been a positive experience, but he hopes that the need for migration into rural and regional areas becomes a government priority.

“RDAO is doing a great job and needs to enforce to the government that we need migrant workers in the country otherwise we can’t grow the region.”

Des Kennedy is a former RDAO board member and is the Mayor of Mudgee.