Another boost towards Southland’s goal of attracting 10,000 more people by 2025 with Southland selected as one of 5 regions to pilot a new Welcoming Communities initiative.
The initiative aims to support Southlanders in welcoming newcomers, which is a change in emphasis from other initiatives which have focussed more on supporting newcomers.
Catherine Proffitt, who is leading the Welcoming Communities initiative for Immigration NZ said that international evidence tells us that communities that work together to be welcoming to newcomers contributes to building a place where everyone feels like they belong. This in turn means migrants will choose to stay and settle long term in Southland, which helps build shared prosperity and growth for everyone.
”Southland was invited to be part of the pilot because it’s an area where demographics are changing rapidly, and people need to be equipped to deal with that reality. We were also very keen to work with Southland because of the strong relationships we already have here, and because there’s already a strong base of good work going on across the region to build from.”
Venture Southland Group Manager Tourism, Events and Community Bobbi Brown is not surprised that Southland was once again chosen to pilot a national initiative such as this.
“Southland gets opportunities like this because we are good at working together and have a proven record of delivering results. We also always put our communities at the front of everything we do.”
“In Southland the proportion of people born overseas is lower than the national average, but that proportion is increasing. The places where people come from is also changing; previously the biggest proportion of migrants in Southland has been from the UK and Ireland, however more recently, 50% of new arrivals are from Asia.”
“International students at SIT and other education providers is on the increase; the number of new international students was up 35% between 2013/14 and 2014/15. The resettlement of refugees in Invercargill over the next few years is another important group to keep in mind.”
Bobbi Brown believes that there is no doubt that our communities are changing and the resilient spirit of Southlanders is evident as we are proactively embracing this change. “Programmes like this will support us to get on and address the challenges that are out there, while also celebrating the awesome quality of life opportunities only found in Southland”
“This initiative will build on the strong sense of community and the services and networks already out there. However, it will encourage Councils to take more of a leadership role in encouraging their communities to welcome newcomers and this will be through an accreditation process which will facilitate sharing good settlement practice and ideas, fostering collaboration and recognising success.”
Mrs Brown believes that “Southland already is a welcoming place for newcomers. We want to build on this and continue to do it better than everyone else. We want people talking about how awesome Southland is so that it’s the most desired place to live in. We only have to keep building on what we already have – fantastic employment, education and business opportunities; affordable housing, friendly southern people and an amazing way of life not found anywhere else. We live in paradise down here, we really do.”
A Governance Group consisting of representatives from the Councils, Community Trust of Southland,
Immigration NZ (MBIE) and iwi is planned to be established and this will guide the pilot which will be delivered through the region’s community, tourism and economic development agency, Venture Southland.
The pilot has allocated funding of $100,000 over two years and it is intended to use this funding (along with further funding and resource through Venture Southland and Community Trust of Southland) to recruit a full time position.
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