COMMUNITY MINDED: Overseas migration plays a huge role in the stability of the Coffs Coast.
COMMUNITY MINDED: Overseas migration plays a huge role in the stability of the Coffs Coast. Leigh Jensen

Migration proposed for regional reboot

A HANDFUL of rural towns across the land have found welcoming migrants is their solution to population decline and workforce shortages.

Now the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) says it's time the rest of the country gets on board with chief executive Jack Archer saying migration projects are paying huge dividends with some small towns increasing population by up to 15 percent.

"In many cases these migration strategies have been locally-led but carried out in isolation,” he said.

"Now we need to connect the dots and help other rural towns capitalise on the opportunities migrant settlement programs can deliver.

"A new national policy facilitating the establishment of a network of priority rural migration areas could enable many communities to meet their local labour market needs and provide support for growth and community renewal.”

While Coffs Harbour is classified as a city and a long way from the 'small town' definition the 2016 Census showed the indelible mark overseas migration has made.

Statistics revealed 10,150 Coffs Harbour residents were born overseas with 19 per cent of those arriving in Australian during the prior five years.

While predominantly from the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic, German, Italian, Indian and Dutch ethnicity was prominent.

The RAI is at Parliament House in Canberra today hosting the More Migrants for Small Towns event and will release the new policy paper, The Missing Workers, highlighting an opportunity for a new national policy.

The RAI says if regions welcome an additional 2,000-3,000 migrants per year this would put a stop to population decline in most rural areas.

The new RAI policy paper is available at www.regionalaustralia.org.au