Migrants make an incredible contribution to Australia.
In fact, there are more than seven million migrants living in Australia helping to stimulate growth, create more jobs and slow the ageing of the Australian population.
Every town and suburb in Australia has their own migrant success stories.
Many of our smaller cities and regional areas, however, cannot fill the jobs available - with an estimated 60,000 job vacancies in regional Australia today.
A federal parliamentary committee is hitting the road to find out what can be done to increase the number of migrants moving to regional areas to fill these gaps and ease the pressure on our major capital cities.
Committee Chair Julian Leeser says the inquiry has been prompted by recent trends indicating declining population growth in some regional areas of Australia.
While approximately 187,000 international migrants settled in regional areas between 2006 and 2011, this accounts for only 20 per cent of arrivals in that period, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
'What we know is that some areas of Australia are having success attracting new migrants, while other areas are struggling to both attract and retain migrants and address skill shortages,' Mr Leeser said.
'The answers to how to attract new settlers won't be found in our big cities - so we're going to travel to areas where migration settlement is and isn't working, and talk to the people best placed to know why and why not.'
Mr Leeser is encouraging people to contribute to the process. Submissions to the inquiry will be accepted until September 20.
The Joint Standing Committee on Migration intends to hold public hearings at various locations, which will be announced in due course on the inquiry website.
The terms of reference for the inquiry are as follows:
The Joint Standing Committee on Migration shall inquire into and report on the breadth of migrant settlement strategies and migration settings - including for skilled and humanitarian migrants - in regional Australia, with reference to:
- National and international best practice strategies to encourage people to settle and stay in regional areas;
- Strategies to develop regional skilled migration;
- Strategies to develop regional humanitarian migration;
- Key local, state and federal initiatives for successful regional settlement outcomes;
- Local volunteers, employers and community organisations and their role in facilitating regional settlement;
- Relevant migration policy, including administration and state specific migration mechanisms;
- Related infrastructure matters; and
- Any other related matter.
The Committee shall give particular consideration to how communities and settlement services can best assist migrants to gain successful employment outcomes in regional Australia, including local work experience opportunities, skills certification and training, knowledge of Australian workforce regulations, accommodation and travel to and from the workplace.