Mi­grant work boost

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - BY DEAN LAW­SON

Mi­grants look­ing for work and busi­nesses on the hunt for staff in the Wim­mera are set to ben­e­fit from a ma­jor fi­nan­cial com­mit­ment from the State Gov­ern­ment.

A Nhill-based com­mu­nity sup­port or­gan­i­sa­tion has won $480,000 in gov­ern­ment back­ing for a pro­ject de­signed to con­nect Wim­mera busi­nesses with mi­grant em­ploy­ees.

The fund­ing means Nhill Learn­ing Cen­tre, which has forged a rep­u­ta­tion for its work with refugee mi­grants in the west Wim­mera, can em­ploy ex­tra staff mem­bers for a $640,000 re­gion-wide con­nec­tive pro­gram.

La­bor Mem­ber for West­ern Vic­to­ria Jaala Pul­ford said the gov­ern­ment would pro­vide sup­port for the Wim­mera CALD Di­verse Work­force In­dus­try Part­ner­ship Pro­ject. CALD stands for Cul­tur­ally and Lin­guis­ti­cally Di­verse.

The part­ner­ship will in­volve 15 em­ploy­ment or­gan­i­sa­tions and about 150 CALD em­ploy­ees.

The fund­ing will go to­wards the Nhill cen­tre em­ploy­ing a work­force devel­op­ment of­fi­cer and a multi-lin­gual li­ai­son of­fi­cer to pro­vide ser­vices to CALD em­ploy­ees and prospec­tive em­ploy­ers across the Wim­mera.

The pro­ject is de­signed to iden­tify skill gaps and cre­ate learn­ing plans for CALD em­ploy­ees while ex­plor­ing fu­ture em­ploy­ment and ed­u­ca­tion path­ways.

It will have an aim to es­tab­lish work­force di­ver­sity and pro­vide busi­nesses with labour to meet work­force re­quire­ments based on busi­ness growth.

Happy

De­lighted Nhill Learn­ing Cen­tre ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer An­nette Creek said the an­nounce­ment meant the cen­tre would now have the nec­es­sary re­sources to in­crease pro­gram po­ten­tial and ca­pac­ity.

“Be­cause of our work in this space peo­ple were look­ing to us for ex­per­tise and our re­sources were well and truly stretched,” she said.

“We knew from what ev­ery­one was say­ing to us, in­clud­ing em­ploy­ers, that we had to in­crease our reach. This now gives us the re­sourc­ing needed to es­tab­lish a strong and worth­while pro­ject.”

Ms Creek stressed the pro­ject was de­signed to meet needs across the Wim­mera.

“To have this kind of fund­ing avail­able is ter­rific and rare. It is to pro­vide links for mi­grants and em­ploy­ers across the re­gion. We’ve taken this on be­cause we have de­vel­oped an ex­per­tise work­ing with refugees and em­ploy­ers in our com­mu­ni­ties,” she said.

Nhill Learn­ing Cen­tre con­tin­ues to play an in­te­gral role in sup­port­ing the needs of the com­mu­nity, es­pe­cially mi­grant work­ers, many of them Karen refugees that have pri­mar­ily set­tled in Nhill dis­trict.

In 2009 Nhill duck-pro­duc­tion busi­ness Luv-a-duck re­sponded to a labour short­age by en­cour­ag­ing Karen refugees from Burma, also known as Myan­mar, to set­tle in Nhill.

With com­pany and com­mu­nity sup­port, the Karen com­mu­nity has grown to make up eight per­cent of the town’s pop­u­la­tion.

Ms Pul­ford said with the Wim­mera’s age­ing and de­creas­ing pop­u­la­tion, many em­ploy­ers were ex­pe­ri­enc­ing labour and skill short­ages.

She said at­tract­ing mi­grants to the re­gion had proven to be a suc­cess­ful way to tackle the prob­lem.

“We’re so proud to sup­port the Wim­mera in its suc­cess­ful and on­go­ing ef­forts to de­velop skills to meet the needs of lo­cal em­ploy­ers,” she said.

Hind­marsh Shire Coun­cil, Aus­tralian Wild­flow­ers, West Wim­mera Health Ser­vice, Sher­well Ahrens Man­u­fac­tur­ing, Os­cars Fur­ni­ture Man­u­fac­tur­ing, G and M. Kennedy and Toh Mae Pah are also sup­port­ing the pro­ject.

Cul­tural hub

The west Wim­mera has also been a ma­jor ben­e­fi­ciary of State Gov­ern­ment fund­ing through a Liv­ing Li­braries In­fra­struc­ture Pro­gram.

The gov­ern­ment has al­lo­cated $600,000 for West Wim­mera Shire Coun­cil’s Eden­hope Cul­tural and Com­mu­nity Hub, pro­vid­ing the $1.8-mil­lion to $2-mil­lion pro­ject with a fi­nan­cial green light to pro­ceed.

The pro­ject in­volves the re­de­vel­op­ment of a Me­chan­ics In­sti­tute hall in El­iz­a­beth Street into a cul­tural cen­tre that will pro­vide li­brary, tourism pro­mo­tion and civic ser­vices. It will fea­ture a com­mu­nity func­tion space, meet­ing rooms and fa­cil­i­ties for out­reach and vis­it­ing ser­vice or­gan­i­sa­tions.

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