With a lack of skilled staff or sufficient population identified as being key issues in some regions of SA, the Women in Business Regional Network was pleased to be an in-kind sponsor of the recent Regional Australia Institute’s (RAI) Regions Rising national roadshow when it came to Adelaide.
At the heart of the roadshow was the launch by the Minister for Regional Development, Tim Whetstone, of Steps to Settlement Success: A toolkit for Rural and Regional Communities.
The conference attracted about 100 representatives from regions across South Australia and heard several inspiring stories about how migrants had been brought into some of the regions to help fill job vacancies.
Major businesses such as Thomas Foods International at Murray Bridge and The Mitolo Group spoke about why the migrant population had been important to keep their major businesses functioning and how they had been instrumental in trying to ensure their new workforce were able to become part of their local communities.
Mount Gambier was provided as an example of how a community can make a conscious decision to support a migrant population. That area is recognised as a welcome area for refugees.
RAI co-CEO Liz Ritchie said the toolkit that was launched followed the March signing of a new Designated Area Migration Agreement between the state and federal governments to bring skilled migrants to regions to help fill skills shortages.
“This work, which has been generously supported by the Scanlon Foundation, will help guide regional communities and the SA Government in their renewed efforts to attract migrants and, more importantly, see them stay in SA,” Ms Ritchie said.
Mr Whetstone emphasised that the increased focus on migrants was to fill vacancies that couldn’t be filled at present.
“This is not about putting Australians out of work,” Mr Whetstone said.
This is not about putting Australians out of work.Minister for Regional Development, Tim Whetstone
He said businesses wanting to invest in regional industries such as red meat needed to have confidence that they would have a workforce to continue to support their operations.
Although backpackers and fly-in-fly-out workers had been utilised in the past to provide additional staff, Mr Whetstone said it was better to obtain workers who could be part of the community, living, working and spending there.
The toolkit gives advice on how communities can firstly make the decision to welcome migrants to their town, how they can secure employment, how migrants can become involved and obtain housing.
Communities are being encouraged to initiate steps to attract migrants, especially in areas where businesses find it difficult to attract workers.
Follow THIS LINK to download the toolkit.
Women in Business Regional Network founder Carolyn Jeffrey said the network’s current Snapshot Survey had already identified a lack of skilled staff as being an issue for many of the businesses represented by the network.
“This conference was a great opportunity to not only showcase what our organisation is about, but to also network with people from regions throughout South Australia,” Carolyn said.