How migration helps shape thriving communities

Australia is a nation shaped by immigration. Around 7.5 million people have settled here since 1945 alone, adding greatly to the culture, character, diversity and multiculturalism of many of our regional areas. 

At a time when attracting and retaining families and both skilled and unskilled labour in regional Australia remain a challenge, the experience and skills of migrants are critical to its ongoing economic and social prosperity. 

"Cultural diversity is one of our nation’s strength. It’s also a significant economic contributor.”

There are more than six million people living in Australia born overseas and between 2006 and 2011, 187,000 migrants settled outside major capital cities.

A report by  Regional Australia Institute (RAI) shows in 2016 over 150 regional local government areas welcomed international migrants to assist in combating declining populations.

Many of these towns, such as Shepparton in Victoria, rely heavily on migrants to fill skilled and unskilled employment gaps across a range of industries such as agriculture, construction and manufacturing.

More broadly, migrants also run one third of small businesses in Australia, highlighting their entrepreneurial spirit and hard-working attitude.


It’s important for communities and business to look for ways to encourage the economic participation of migrants which can lead to a number of benefits such as creating independence and reducing the reliance on community services.

The Australian Migrant Resource Centre (MRC) understands the benefits of migrant economic participation well, having resettled over 80,000 migrants since 1979. 

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You can see the full CGU infographic and report HERE.

In Tatiara, a broad multicultural township in South Australia with over 75 per cent of its population of non-English speaking background, MRC’s Bordertown office works in partnership with the town’s major employer and the Tatiara District Council to support migrant settlement and integration.

“These partnerships are crucial to meeting the needs of all community members to promote social cohesion and to build social capital,” Australian Migrant Resource Centre coordinator Tracey Grosser says.

“Economic and social migrant contributions to the region include the creation of culturally and linguistically diverse communities, working in local industry, use of housing and other services, accessing local schools and recreational facilities and becoming involved in local clubs which are beneficial to the entire community.”

Grosser believes Australia’s large businesses have a role to play in helping migrants to contribute their experience, skills and qualifications to our society, culture, economy and environment. 

“Big businesses can assist by engaging with and working alongside settlement agencies through to financial support for education programs and recreational activities,” she says.

The Australian Migrant Resource Centre is one of 26 community organisations from across regional Australia which will share in more than $A250,000 in grants in 2018 as part of ANZ’s Seeds of Renewal Program.

The grant will be used to assist newly resettled migrants with a new volunteer run driver education and road safety program in Tatiara.


“Tatiara is home to a growing population of newly resettled migrants attracted by jobs in the viticulture and meat processing industries but often they don’t have the linguistic skills or experience with motor vehicles and road safety to obtain a licence,” Grosser says.

“This becomes a huge barrier both economically and socially, and we hope to overcome it to the betterment of our participants and the broader local community.”

Cultural diversity is one of our nation’s strength. It’s also a significant economic contributor - according to CGU’s Migrant Small Business report released this week, Australia’s population will reach 38 million and migration will inject $A1.6 trillion into Australia’s GDP by 2050.

For these contributions to continue, attracting and retaining migrant and refugee communities in rural and regional Australia requires effective policies developed in collaboration with local communities, local government and businesses.

Isaac Rankin is General Manager Business Banking at ANZ

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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