As published in Whyalla News
Written by Louis Mayfield.
Photo: Welcome: From left, Middleback Arts Centre Manager Ryan Sutherland, Cielo Haghorne, Whyalla Mayor Clare McLaughlin, Zeleka Habtegiorgis, Whyalla Tourism Focus Group President Barbara Derham, Cynthia Curd, Grace Chiang, Michele Hart and Michael Cresshull at the Whyalla Visitor Centre where a contingent of 50 migrants were welcomed with a special lunch.
The steel city welcomed over 50 skilled migrants from the Australian Migrant Resource Centre (AMRC) with a special lunch at the Whyalla Visitor Centre on Sunday.
Representatives from the Whyalla City Council, Regional Development Whyalla and Eyre Peninsula (RDAWEP), Whyalla Tourism Focus Group and TAFE SA were in attendance to greet the group.
The lunch was an opportunity for the migrants to get to know one another and meet locals who could steer them in the right direction for employment.
It marked the beginning of their two-day visit, with the migrant contingent attending a barbecue dinner at the Foreshore Motor-Inn on Sunday night, an employment seminar at the Middleback Arts Centre Monday morning and lunch served by students at Edward John Eyre High School that afternoon.
The initiative was inspired by council’s visit to Adelaide in July to promote Whyalla at a forum, and Mayor Clare McLaughlin said it was fantastic to see the promotion paying off.
“We’re hoping to fill job positions that currently can’t be filled, and the people here today had the opportunity to speak to different businesses and organisations about what they can offer,” she said.
“These migrants have a variety of different qualifications which is fantastic. Hopefully that will meet the requirements of some of these positions we’re hoping to fill.
“They are very grateful and interested in what’s available here in Whyalla.”
RDAWEP CEO Dion Dorward said attracting migrants to Whyalla would be key to rebuilding the region’s population, which has suffered a decline in recent years.
“We know we’ve got investment in the new high school, renewable energy, the steelworks, and at some stage those investments will start translating into jobs on the ground,” he said.
“So as a pre-emptive strike, getting people up here early to understand what those opportunities are, and what a wonderful place Whyalla is to live is very important.
“We know employers can struggle with securing the skilled people they require, so this is an opportunity for employers to know who’s out there in terms of potential employees.”
Whyalla Tourism Focus Group Chairperson Barbara Derham praised the work of her executive committee and hoteliers for providing the visitors with free accommodation over two days.
“We felt this was a wonderful opportunity to welcome people to our city. Every accommodation house that I approached have offered free accommodation for these visitors,” she said.
“The Lions Club of Mount Laura kindly arranged to assist cooking the barbecue. All of our food providers have assisted us with what’s happening today.
“These migrants have skills that this city needs.”
AMRC Board Member Hussain Razaiat said migrants were looking for employment in a variety of areas including aged care, housing, and labor.
“When we promoted this trip we had over 70 expressions of interest, so we’re planning to organise another trip,” he said.
“We have people from Africa, the Middle East, south-east Asia, central Asia, all corners of the world.
“I think Whyalla is a very interesting place and the people are very welcoming. The Mayor and other people here are very friendly and encouraging.
“We want to say thanks to the Whyalla community, we want to become part of this community.”