Encouraging migrants to move to regional Australia is frequently viewed as a ‘win-win’ for receiving communities, local economies, and migrants themselves. New arrivals—including skilled workers, temporary migrants, refugees and other permanent migrants—have the potential to revitalise regional towns and bring new life to local economies. Migration to Australia’s regions also adds cultural richness and diversity while easing pressure on urban infrastructure and services. In turn, settling in regional contexts can speed up the integration process for migrants, providing them with unique settings in which to establish a new life.
However, Australia’s regional areas differ greatly in terms of their socioeconomic and demographic characteristics. Many of the potential benefits of regional migrant settlement may be offset by the challenges of existing disadvantage, limited employment and career opportunities, and gaps in service provision, housing and affordable transport. Moreover, not all communities in regional towns have experience in supporting new arrivals or a shared commitment to celebrating cultural diversity. Migrants themselves may be wary of the limited opportunities for employment and cultural safety in regional towns and may choose to relocate only temporarily, sometimes to meet visa requirements. These risk factors can combine to compromise the sustainability of regional settlement initiatives before they have even begun.
Realising the benefits of regional settlement requires careful planning, knowledge of what works, and close collaboration between key stakeholders. Funded by the Queensland Government through Multicultural Affairs Queensland, Welcoming Cities has partnered with the Monash Migration and Inclusion Centre to conduct a review of existing evidence on regional migrant settlement in Australia and propose scenarios for the design of potential migrant resettlement initiatives.