Refugee impact positive in Greater Shepparton

By Tara Whitsed

A report detailing the positive economic impact of the settlement of refugees in Bendigo reflects Greater Shepparton, according to the Ethnic Council of Shepparton’s Chris Hazelman.

The ‘Regional Futures: Economic and social impact of the Karen resettlement in Bendigo’ report detailed that the Karen community had added almost $70million to the local economy in a decade, while also enhancing the city’s rich multicultural traditions.

While Mr Hazelman said there had been no such report compiled for Greater Shepparton, its rich history of settling refugees across the decades meant the positive economic impact was self-evident.

‘‘In recent weeks, a report from the state government detailed that Shepparton was one of the top places for investment, our population growth is going up and housing prices still remain high,’’ he said.

Mr Hazelman said Shepparton was traditionally a magnet in attracting refugees due to the opportunity for labour work.

‘‘The number of refugees that have come here in the last 20 years has resulted in them making up 10 per cent of Shepparton’s population.’’

Mr Hazelman said while he could not quantify the economic impact, he believed it would exceed the $70million figure in the Bendigo report.

The report was jointly produced by Deloitte Access Economics and migrant and refugee settlement agency AMES Australia.

AMES Australia chief executive Cath Scarth said the study showed there was potential for settling more refugees and migrants in regional Australia.

‘‘Regional settlement of migrants and refugees is a topical and important component in the advancement of Australia’s migration strategies and, when well facilitated, it can make a significant contribution to the economic as well as the cultural social fabric of regional communities,’’ she said.

Deloitte Access Economics partner David Rumbens said in the right conditions, the positive economic impact of the regional settlement of refugees was clear.

‘‘There are many regional communities faced with issues around ageing populations and labour shortages,’’ he said.

‘‘This study shows that refugees, and migrants more generally, can play a role in securing the future prosperity of regional communities across Australia.’’