THE misconstrued belief there are no jobs and the bush won’t welcome migrants is untrue and stifling progress, local multicultural advocates say.
Multicultural Tamworth secretary Juanita Doody said a lot of time is spent battling the media which hangs-on negative narratives about migration.
“We want to combat the narrative that ‘there is no work, so there’s no point looking at the country’ and ‘people in bush in the don’t want them, they’re racist’,” she said.
Mrs Doody said Tamworth had been more welcoming than metro areas, from what she’s been told.
“A lot of migrants have come here, some visited on placement spent and said ‘I’ve spent a lot of time in Australia and I felt less singled-out than in Sydney, where I come form,” she said.
Education and meeting migrants was the best way to combat prevailing negative attitudes.
Through its work, the Tamworth settlement group has recently been chosen to help shape policies on regional migration.
Mrs Doody will attend a forum in Canberra, hosted by the Regional Australia Institute, where Tamworth’s experience of “community-led” migrant support will be shared.
She said government-led migration policies which had focused on logistical issues, such as jobs and housing, weren’t as successful.
“They don’t stay unless they become part of communities,” Mrs Doody said.
She said creating a “sense of belonging” among new arrivals was key to attracting and retaining migrant families and pointed to the success of the annual Fiesta La Peel event.
The multicultural food festival was often a revelatory experience, Mrs Doody said, which highlighted how many people from migrant backgrounds were living and working in Tamworth.
The most recent figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) revealed the Tamworth council area had a population of 61,554 and recent growth had been largely buttressed by migration.
In 2017 Tamworth’s population grew by 556 people; which was 68 per cent comprised of overseas migrants.
The region’s growth has remained steady at around one per cent a year.