Regional Development Australia Whyalla and Eyre Peninsula (RDAWEP) worked closely with the Australian Migrant Resource Centre over the past few months to create and host the first Adelaide based migration expo.

The expo was opened by the Honourable Vicki Chapman MP, Deputy Premier, clearly demonstrating the commitment of the State Government to the migration agenda in South Australia.

The event was a huge success with well over 100 attendees consisting of community and ethnic leaders/members, service providers, government representatives, and young people of migrant and refugee background.  Participants came from an array of ethnicities including Burmese, Filipino, Afghan, Chinese, Eritrean, Ethiopian, Ugandan, Bhutanese, Indian, Syrian, Iraqi, Armenian, Egyptian, Ghanaian, Venezuelan, Iranian, Congolese, Lebanese, Tamil, Acholi and many more.

Photo: Chris Cowley, Chief Executive Officer, Whyalla City Council; The Honourable Vicki Chapman MP, Deputy Premier; Mayor Clare McLaughlin, Whyalla City Council;  Brad Riddle, Deputy Director Regional Development, Regional Development Australia Whyalla and Eyre Peninsula; David Penfold, Economic Development Manager, Regional Development Australia Whyalla and Eyre Peninsula; Professor Carol Grech, University of South Australia; Robin O’Dea, Manager Regions Whyalla, TAFESA; Helen Connolly, Commissioner for Children and Young People SA; Hanif Rahimi, Member, Afghan Community of SA; His Honour Judge Rauf Soulio, Chairperson, AMRC; and Ms Eugenia Tsoulis, OAM, CEO, AMRC.

The purpose of the migration expo was to help meet the workforce needs of businesses in the Whyalla and greater Eyre Peninsula region.

Although there is a “locals first’ approach to employment by local companies, it has now reached a crisis point where many current and future jobs remain vacant due to a lack of people available to do the roles.

This existing workforce shortage, couple with the significant growth plans of GFG Alliance and the imminent start of major new projects including the Cultana Solar Farm and the new $100m high school, leave Whyalla in the precarious position of desperately needing workforce in order to be able to deliver these major projects.

Migration has historically been a key part of the Whyalla community fabric, with a diverse range of backgrounds already adding diversity to the community and the time has again arrived for the need to embrace migration to meet the future needs of the city.

Mr Brad Riddle, Deputy Director Regional Development, RDAWEP said “Eyre Peninsula is a region built on a foundation of migration.  Migration has made a significant contribution to our region over the past 200 years and is responsible for a great deal of the innovation across a number of industry sectors.

“The Living and Working in Whyalla Expo was hugely successful in connecting migrants with employment and training opportunities in Whyalla.”

“The response from the more than 100 attendees was overwhelmingly positive with many unaware of the significant opportunities in Whyalla and beyond.  I personally talked to more than 30 individuals, from highly skilled engineers to unskilled labourers looking for opportunities in their chosen field,” he said.

A range of key partners including the Australian Migration Resource Centre (AMRC), in partnership with RDAWEP, the South Australian Department for Innovation and Skills, Whyalla City Council, TAFE SA Whyalla, University of South Australia, and Chandler Macleod facilitated and presented on the evening.

RDAWEP is now working closely with the Australian Migrant Resource Centre on the next steps to support the success of migrant settlement into Whyalla and broader Eyre Peninsula based on the level of interest from the event.