Refugees could renew waning rural townships

NEW SOLUTION: Could resettling African refugees on the Southern Downs help reinvigorate smaller rural communities in the region?
NEW SOLUTION: Could resettling African refugees on the Southern Downs help reinvigorate smaller rural communities in the region? Bev Lacey

A PROGRAM to to resettle refugees from war-torn Africa could breathe new life into dwindling rural towns in Queensland and New South Wales.

Mingoola on the New South Wales and Queensland border is leading the way for the program, with three families already settled in the small rural community.

More than 200 more are on the waiting list for the innovative program helping communities in decline who could otherwise be looking at shutting down schools and scrapping basic services.

Mayor Tracy Dobie said the program could have success on the Southern Downs, but would need the support of the private sector and Federal Government.

"I certainly could support the initiative but there are a couple of things we would need to look at," Cr Dobie said.

"The first is employment - we have a very low unemployment rate but we also know we do not have employment available on a large scale for resettlement.

"In other areas where this has been successful they've had larger industry and we also need to ensure any skills and qualifications are recognised by the Australian Government.

"The second is occupancy and whether we have the occupancy rate in our home to handle a high number of residents for larger families.

"Employment and housing are private sector issues.

"I'm unsure of what we could do as council in the first instance without further government and private sector support.

"We already have small numbers of new Australians moving here and it's great to have a multicultural community, but on a larger scale it would be difficult to support where we are right now."

Topics:  program refugee

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