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Ukrainian refugees keen to provide solution to regional labor shortage crisis

An initiative to support dozens of Ukrainian refugees moving to regional New South Wales is being hailed as a possible solution to the labor crisis.

More than 40 refugees met with employers and accommodation providers in Orange and Cowra, in the state’s central west, to begin the process of moving to the region.

Vitalii Tanasevych arrived in Australia three months ago, after being forced to flee his home town when Russia invaded Ukraine.

Mr Tanasevych said the support he received while traveling through the Central West had been overwhelming.

“Everybody apologized to me that this happened, they understand that this is tough to be in this moment,” he said.

“Somebody started to cry, they want to help as much as possible.

Mr Tanasevych said he intended to stay in Australia permanently, now that it was “no longer safe” to return to Ukraine.

A rocket is launched from the raised back of a truck.
More than 3,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Australia since the war began in February. (Reuters: Gleb Garanich)

‘It really is a struggle’

Prior to the invasion, Mr Tanasevych was a beekeeper near Mykolaiv, in Ukraine’s south, with more than 60 beehives.

He now planned to re-join the industry in New South Wales.

People like Mr Tanasevych had local business owners hopeful that a solution to labor shortages may have been found.

A box of red apples
Orange-based orchard manager Keisha Tyler says they have struggled to fill vacancies since the pandemic began.(ABC Central West: Hamish Cole )

Keisha Tyler is the operations manager of an orchard near Orange.

She said since the pandemic, finding staff had been a challenge.

“We struggle consistently with getting people who would like to work in agriculture,” she said.

Ms Tyler met with the refugees, offering them a number of full-time positions and accommodation options.

She hoped by supporting the Ukrainians with assimilating to the region, they could solve their labor shortages.

“I think it is going to be great for both ends,” Ms Tyler said.

Regional Australia should welcome refugees

Jillian Hindmarsh from Rural Australians for Refugees said regional communities must be involved in supporting Ukrainians and other refugees arriving in Australia.

A middle aged lady with a scarf in front of some bushes
Jillian Hindmarsh from Rural Australians for Refugees says regional Australia has an important role in supporting displaced people. (ABC Central West: Hamish Cole )

Ms Hindmarsh said by supporting refugees with learning English and other skills they could play an important role in rural communities.

“The regions rely very heavily on backpackers which is why we have that problem at the moment,” she said.

“We actually need to look at skilling up our refugees to actually fulfill these positions and recognize that all these jobs play an important role in running this country.

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