TAMWORTH migrants are changing perceptions and challenging unfair stereotypes with their high employment and vaccination rates, according to Eddie Whitham.
The Multicultural Tamworth leader knew the community was doing well for themselves, but it came to a head a number of weeks ago when new COVID disaster relief payments were released.
Mr Whitham was asked to think of a non-permanent visa holder who was unemployed and would benefit from the payments - but he couldn't.
There are about 4500 migrants in Tamworth, and while he doesn't know all of them, he said it was incredible that out of all the families and people he speaks to, he couldn't remember one of them being jobless.
"Right now I think right across the board the migrants are well placed, and there's jobs everywhere and it's just a matter of getting the rest of the people to get into the workforce," he said.
"I just met some young East Timorese and they said 'we've just arrived to work at Thomas Foods', and I saw some other families that have all arrived to work."
He believes Tamworth is becoming an increasingly popular destination from those who come from overseas, with 87 nationalities currently calling the country music capital home.
Many of them are building lives here, he said, with home ownership within the multicultural community becoming a common theme.
"What is amazing is the amount that have bought homes, that now have their permanent residence or their citizenship which is what they aim for," he said.
"They've come for a purpose."
One of those that has settled in the city is Jay Manivel, who arrived two years ago.
While his job as a valuer is actually based in Sydney, he splits his time between there and Tamworth and has currently bought land with his partner Viji Velavan, who is a local engineer that arrived four years ago.
"[We love] the community, they've truly embraced us," he said.
"Especially for my partner when she came here four years back, she was alone, didn't have support and didn't know anyone in the country.
"Then Eddie and the community took her in and helped her establish herself as a person and her career which was important.
"Once you have a good family and you have a good job, this is a good place to live in."
Another thing that has grabbed Mr Whitham's attention is the amount of migrants who have been vaccinated.
Although he acknowledged it wasn't something that necessarily surprised him, as he thought many would take it seriously given how bad the situation was in some of their home countries.
While calling around to make sure the people he knew were aware of the upcoming Pfizer vaccination hubs, he said the response was almost always the same - they were already double vaccinated.
"I was ringing around and sending messages out because we've got the hubs on, and they said 'we're right uncle, we've got our two and we're done', and I think that's pretty amazing," he said.
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