Efforts are ramping up to ensure the benefits of skilled migration are felt across the Wimmera.
Council staff, volunteers, support service workers, bankers, employers and farmers came together at Horsham Town Hall on Wednesday for the region's first Rural and Regional Migration Forum. The event explored how to best attract migrants and support them once they arrive.
Regional Australia Institute co-chief executive Liz Ritchie, who spoke at the event, said residents in towns seeking skilled labour could take the initiative themselves, rather than waiting for governments.
"What we've found is every community that's done it successfully has done it differently, but there is the incredible need for a leader," she said.
"We heard that with the stories of (former Luv-a-Duck general manager) John Millington, and David Matthews - it's only taken one individual to step up and say we have a need here and how can we fix this problem.
"That's probably one of the most important things for communities to understand."
Mr Matthews has helped lead a rural migration initiative that has seen vets and other professionals from Columbia move to Rupanyup over the past four years.
"We wanted to get a targeted migration program going in Western Victoria, so three community bank companies - Edenhope, Minyip/Rupanyup and Charlton - agreed to pilot the Regional and Rural Migration Initiative," he said.
"Over the last year or so we've been engaging with the agencies that have a role within that, and that led to the local launch in Rupanyup."
Mr Matthews said one of the forum's primary purposes was to get existing projects to work together, in order to present clearer messages to state and federal agencies of what was needed and where.
"We first need to identify the skills shortages across the Wimmera. For example, the skills needed to work in the industries that service agriculture now are quite high-level," he said.
"Finding the technicians that can mange the technology in agricultural machinery and finding people with the skills required in animal or crop production can be quite challenging."
Nhill Learning Centre executive officer Annette Creek said although the town was frequently held up as a shining example of a successful migration program, work still had to be done to make sure the town's newest residents could transition to their new lives.
"We launched a program around six months ago called WCWIP, which is funded for three years by Regional Development Victoria," she said.
"It allows us to put a project worker and multilingual liason officer on the road across the Wimmera to help employed refugees with skills development and language lessons.
"Hopefully as a result of the forum, employers see the value of hiring people from different backgrounds, that it can be done anywhere and there are groups that can help."
Regional Australia Institute plans to launch a toolkit for communities to develop migration strategies.