The resettlement of more than 160 Karen refugees from Myanmar into the small Victorian town of Nhill provides a blueprint for job creation and regional development, Assistant Minister for Employment Luke Hartsuyker said today.
Mr Hartsuyker officially launched the Small Towns Big Returns report compiled by AMES and Deloitte Access Economics. The study examined the economic and social impact of the Karen resettlement in north west Victoria over the past five years.
The report found that the resettlement and employment of the Karen people in Nhill had boosted Gross Regional Product in the Hindmarsh Shire by more than $41 million.
Mr Hartsuyker said the study was a regional development and migrant resettlement success story.
“In 2010, Nhill was suffering the same fate of many small rural towns and facing a decline in its working age population and the challenge of keeping services going.
“One local business, Luv-a-Duck, wanted to expand its operations but was struggling to find staff. By working in partnership with AMES, a resettlement and employment services provider, Luv-a-Duck was able to secure the staff it needed from the Karen community to grow its business.
“As a result, an additional 70 full time equivalent positions were added to the local economy creating broader social and economic benefits for the community, including a growth in school enrolments and increased demand for other services.
“The combination of Luv-a-Duck’s vision, the Karen people’s willingness to move for work, the local community’s warm reception and the expertise of AMES has helped to revitalise this Victorian community.
Mr Hartsuyker said the report underlined the important role of employment services in linking job seekers with employers.
“Right across the nation, regional employers – like Luv-a-Duck - are telling me how hard it can be to find the right staff to help them grow their business.
“That’s where employment service providers, like AMES, have a vital role to play in working with employers to help them find the right staff for their business and to support job seekers to take up those opportunities.
“The Government’s new employment services system jobactive has a number of features to help regional employers and job seekers.
“This includes new wage subsidies of between $6,500 and $10,000 to help employers to hire and train staff and relocation assistance of up to $6,000 to help job seekers to move to regional Australia to take up a job.
“Job seekers with children can also receive up to an additional $3,000 to help with the costs of moving.
‘There is also a new regional loading for jobactive providers in recognition of the extra costs in delivering services in regional Australia.
“I would like to congratulate John Millington’s team from Luv-a-Duck and the staff at AMES who helped the Karen people to move to Nhill to take up a job, and in doing so, helped to boost the town’s economy and lay a path for the future.
“I will be using this excellent report to advocate that other regions and towns to consider the benefits of migrant regional settlement,” Mr Hartsuyker said.
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