South West’s melting pot of culture to benefit from skilled migrants

Stuart McGuckin and Pierra WillixSouth Western Times
More than 40 nationalities were represented at this year’s South West Multicural Festival.
Camera IconMore than 40 nationalities were represented at this year’s South West Multicural Festival. Credit: Justin Fris

Multicultural Services WA Bunbury team leader Julie Todter believes more skilled migrants coming to the South West would help create an even more vibrant community.

Last week’s Federal Budget included the announcement of two new visas designed to entice more skilled migrants into regional areas.

The Government has set aside $49.6 million over five years for the Skilled Work Regional visa and the Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional provisional visa which will be implemented from November.

Each will permit skilled migrants to stay and work in regional Australia for five years.

Ms Todter said she dealt with migrants who brought a variety of skills to the South West.

“There is a wide range of skills, from doctors and high-level engineers to relatively unskilled labour working in trades and agriculture — there is really the whole gamut,” she said.

More than 40 different countries were represented at this year’s South West Multicultural Festival which continues to grow annually.

She said the wide-ranging origins of migrants coming to the area helped create a vibrant community.

“Here in the South West there’s a reasonable number of people from India, quite a few high-skilled people from Iran and there is a large number of people from the Philippines,” she said.

“Really, though, we have people coming from all over the world, all continents — that’s always good to create even more diversity as the community learns to embrace it.

“The more different cultures and backgrounds that we see the easier it is to understand different backgrounds — and migrants contribute a lot to communities economically, socially and culturally.”

Ms Todter said migrants often chose to come to Bunbury and the South West because they had heard positive things about the area.

“They know it’s a beautiful area and an intimate and welcoming community that is relatively quiet and supportive,” she said.

“All the people that I’ve met — whether they are refugees, family members, or skilled migrants — their first priority is having a good life for their children.

“They want their kids to be in a good healthy environment and a safe place to get a good education — all the people I’ve dealt with are very happy with the schools down here.”

The new visa types will replace the existing Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visa and the Skilled Regional visa.

The Government will also introduce a new Permanent Residence visa for regional Australia in 2022.

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