REFUGEES who arrived in Australia before 2013 can now settle in the Campaspe Shire.
The council opted-in to the Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) scheme at their October council meeting.
The 2014 Federal Government scheme encourages illegal arrivals, who entered Australia prior to 2013 and engage within Australia’s protection obligations, to settle in a regional community.
SHEV allows refugees to hold a five year visa, ensuring stability and access to work or study.
Christine Turner, Echuca-Moama’s Rural Australians for Refugees (RAR) chairman spoke to the Campaspe Shire councillors.
‘‘The SHEV scheme allows for practical support for settlers,’’ she said.
‘‘Our interest in the matter came about as two families, who have friends here, wanted to move to the area, but discovered that the Campaspe Shire was not part of the scheme,’’
Turner explained these refugees were keen to take up any kind of employment, which would be beneficial to our community, particularly in high turn-over rate industries such as agriculture and hospitality.
‘‘The refugees eligible for the scheme have been in Australia since 2013, they are well aware of our culture,’’ she said.
‘‘Many of these people have worked, are knowledgeable of our politics and some even have their driving licences.’’
Whilst there have been expressions of interest from refugees to move to the Campaspe region, Turner suggested that there would not be an influx, with Bendigo having welcomed approximately 25 refugees since 2015.
Cr Daniel Mackrell supported the SHEV scheme as diversity is important in our community.
‘‘The SHEV scheme ticks the five key points of the Shire’s strategic planning and it is one step forward for our community.’’