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Rainbow Coast Neighbourhood Centre funded to provide more help for skilled migrants moving to Great Southern

Stuart McGuckinAlbany Advertiser
Rainbow Coast Neighbourhood Centre's Co-Executives Angela Bristow-Baohm and Louise Anderton with Sarah Hilder, centre.
Camera IconRainbow Coast Neighbourhood Centre's Co-Executives Angela Bristow-Baohm and Louise Anderton with Sarah Hilder, centre. Credit: Laurie Benson

Skilled migrants moving to the Great Southern will soon receive more support with the appointment of the Rainbow Coast Neighbourhood Centre as a regional settlement service this week.

The RCNC, which operates from Albany and Katanning as well as in Mt Barker through an outreach program, has been helping migrants settle in the region since 2007 thanks to Federal funding.

With the newly announced State Government funding, the organisation can extend its support to skilled migrants who had not previously been eligible for support due to their visa class.

RCNC co-executive officer Angela Bristow-Baohm said their existing support for skilled migrants had been limited by lack of resources.

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Resettling in another country is incredibly challenging for everyone but it is particularly challenging for people who are less proficient in English and are from countries with very different societal systems.

Angela Bristow-Baohm

She said the new funding would mean RCNC can establish strategies to help migrants settle in the region for “longer term”, including orientation, individual casework support and group settlement workshops.

“We will be able to assist with a broad number of things like understanding working in Australia, housing, accessing medical support, transport and drivers licences, education, English language acquisition among many other areas,” she said.

“We will be able to prioritise individual needs and link people to relevant local supports and community connections.”

The RCNC has employed two new part-time staff to support migrants in the Great Southern with one based in Albany and the other in Katanning.

Ms Bristow-Baohm said there had recently been broad political support for filling regional worker shortages with migrants.

She said the resulting growth of cultural diversity within region had been “fabulous” but there had also been concerns because of a lack of available support as RCNS offers the only migrant-specific program in the Great Southern.

“We have seen many situations where migrants have really struggled with issues that could have been avoided or at least the stress minimised if people were offered proactive settlement support like we will be able to,” she said.

“Resettling in another country is incredibly challenging for everyone but it is particularly challenging for people who are less proficient in English and are from countries with very different societal systems.

“Australian systems are incredibly complex and can be a nightmare to navigate particularly with the rise of access requirements becoming digital.”

We want people to feel welcome and part of our communities and set them up for success. This new funding is a real asset for our whole community.

Angela Bristow-Baohm

“This new funding is a real asset for our whole community.”

RCNC was one of four regional settlement services in WA officially appointed to receive funding for the next two years on Thursday.

Training and Workforce Development Minister Simone McGurk said the expansion of services into regional areas would support employers to build their local workforce.

“We know that supporting primary visa holders to find and retain employment, and the social and cultural integration of primary and secondary visa holders, are key for the successful settlement of skilled migrants,” she said.

“The Settlement Services in Western Australian regions initiative aims to improve migrants’ connections with essential services and the community specific to the region.”

RCNC is finalising its new services but expects to be ready to launch in the middle of next month.

“We want people to feel welcome and part of our communities and set them up for success,” Ms Bristow-Baohm said.

“This new funding is a real asset for our whole community.”

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