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In touch with Northern Inland NSW migrant labour needs

Meeting in Peel Street, Tamworth were Mimi Pestana (from Portugal), who wants to become a permanent Inverell resident; DIAC Regional Outreach Officer (NSW), Philomena Leong; and RDANI Project Officer, Kim-Trieste Hastings.
Meeting in Peel Street, Tamworth were Mimi Pestana (from Portugal), who wants to become a permanent Inverell resident; DIAC Regional Outreach Officer (NSW), Philomena Leong; and RDANI Project Officer, Kim-Trieste Hastings.

Northern Inland NSW employers, migrants and those aspiring to become new, permanent residents in local communities were given the opportunity to meet and discuss their cases with immigration officials in their own region last week.

A representative of Regional Development Australia Northern Inland (RDANI) and representatives from the Australian Government’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) met with North West stakeholders in Tamworth, and New England stakeholders in Armidale on consecutive days.

RDANI is the Northern region’s certifying body for employer sponsored visa applications. RDANI Project Officer, Kim-Trieste Hastings said that the Immigration visit was important to the region. “There are many different industries across northern inland NSW that are affected by the current regional labour shortage. Many businesses simply cannot meet their human resource needs with local labour. For them, employer sponsored and skilled migration visas are vital. Local businesses need these options in order to function or expand. With ongoing labour shortages, the economic growth and development of the region is linked to Government contacts, like DIAC Regional Outreach Officer for NSW, Philomena Leong.”

While in Tamworth, the pair visited an abattoir where over 20 percent of the workforce is comprised of migrant labour. The operation’s concerns with these employees were discussed. More importantly, the local employer was made aware of paperwork processing timeframes.

“It was Ms Leong’s first visit to the region and seeing the kind of workplaces that depend on migrant workers, and meeting people involved – putting context and faces to work situations, names and forms, was an important experience,” Ms Hastings said.

While in Peel Street, Tamworth, Ms Hastings and Ms Leong also met with Mimi Pestana. The 24-year-old Portuguese national travelled from Inverell for the meeting. Mimi is living in Inverell, while working voluntarily with the Salvation Army. She is currently on a tourist visa. Having grown fond of the Inverell community, Mimi is seeking full-time employment, in order to secure permanent residency. Mimi has approached local schools, but her foreign tertiary qualifications in physical education require State accreditation. Topping the challenges she is facing are the complexity of the paperwork and the lengthy processing times involved.

“It was very good for me to have this chance to meet with somebody from Immigration, without having to go all the way to Sydney. Sometimes it is very confusing and frustrating to go to many places, call people, and not get any answers,” she said. “Sitting with somebody who knows, made me feel like I was making real progress. There are many pathways, and I want to go about it the right way, and hopefully the quickest way.”

“It still doesn’t seem easy. I still have a long, hard road ahead, but it is good to know now, that I am heading in the right direction with what I am doing,” she said. “Ms Leong gave me good, concise information.”

Parliamentary and Ministerial Liaison Officer with DIAC, Ralph Harwood also visited the region last week. Linking in with, Northern Settlement Services, he was on hand to discuss family migration, citizenship and general migration questions in Tamworth, Armidale, and Inverell. High demand meant full days of back-to-back meetings.

Contact: RDANI Project Officer, Kim-Trieste Hastings: 6771 2790 (for visa certification inquiries)

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