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 Ukrainian refugees visited the Central West to meet with businesses and accommodation providers
- Employers are hopeful the refugees can provide a solution to the labor shortage
- Advocacy groups say regional Australia is crying out for the skill sets provided by displaced people
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.
‘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.
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.
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.