THE successes of Nhill’s Karen community will be highlighted at next month’s Rural Councils Victoria summit.
The event program, themed ‘Small Communities, Big Opportunities’, will include insights into the benefits of migration to rural communities.
Summit host Hindmarsh Shire Council has offered the achievements of its Karen community as an example.
Since 2010, about 160 Karen people have settled in Nhill.
Many have been employed by Luv-a-Duck, one of the Wimmera’s biggest businesses.
Others have become involved in different facets of the community.
Karen woman Plaw Ganemy-Kunoo is the educational multicultural aide at Nhill College.
She is also the culturally and linguistically diverse community development worker at Nhill Neighbourhood House Learning Centre.
Born in Manerplaw, Myanmar, Mrs Ganemy-Kunoo moved to Australia when she was seven years old.
Love brought her to Nhill, where she started her married life.
“I love living in Nhill,” she said.
“It is similar to where we come from: we like the sense of living in a small village, and the sense of community.
“Karen people want to be independent, and here they can find jobs and build a life for their families.”
Rural Councils Victoria chairman and Hindmarsh Shire Mayor Rob Gersch said the Nhill community had also benefited from the Karen migrants.
“They are lovely people who have been welcomed with open arms by the long-standing locals,” he said.
“They have boosted our school numbers, started their own businesses and added to our cultural understanding.”
Rural Councils Victoria’s Rural Summit is on March 27-28.
It will draw delegates from the state’s 38 rural councils to Nhill, where the conference will be based.
The summit also attracts representatives from government, leaders of business and industry, and economic and community development practitioners from municipal government.
Cr Gersch said the event program was aimed at inspiring small communities to create a brighter future and embrace change.
Speakers will include economist Saul Eslake, Mildura chef Stefano De Pieri and former Wimmera man Frank Delahunty, who will speak about the effects of corporate farms on rural communities.
“We will also be highlighting innovative approaches to the challenges rural councils face,” Cr Gersch said.