A resettlement program has injected $41.5 million into the local economy of a town in remote north-western Victoria withering from a labour shortage.
About 160 Karen people from near the Thai-Burma border were resettled in Nhill since 2010, and now account for about 10 per cent of the population of the town, a report for migrant services group AMES found.
The resettlement program targeted the town because it had a declining population and aging workforce, and a local poultry farm Luv-A-Duck sought to expand.
Since the resettlement the migrants account for three per cent of total employment in Hindmarsh, the 7527 square kilometre local government area with a population of 6200.
“Nhill, a very conservative community, has embraced and opened their minds and hearts to the Karen. This has made Nhill a better place to live,” Hindmarsh Shire Council CEO Tony Doyle said in the report.
Because of the extra people and money in the region, support services have also grown, the report found, including a multicultural liaison aide at the Nhill College.
One local business, Halfway Motors employed one resettled Karen man, Hal, who attracted other similar migrants to the business.
“At Karen New Year three Karen people from Werribee brought their vehicles in here for work,” Halfway Motors owners, who weren’t named, said in the report.