Lessons from Rupanyup and Nhill will be taught to communities across Australia, following the launch of a new toolkit.
The Regional Australia Institute unveiled Steps to Settlement Success in Adelaide on Wednesday, a step-by-step action plan of how regional areas can attract migrants to live and stay in their towns.
Co-author Emmanuel Musoni, a Rwandan refugee who was raised in a refugee camp in Uganda, spoke to community leaders in the two Wimmera towns to develop the instruction manual.
He said a key lesson from Nhill - which has a large migrant population of Karen people form southeast Asia - was the need for temporary accommodation.
"Nhill had a sort of transit house so that new migrants coming from the city would spend some time before they could find a permanent place to live in town," he said.
"Getting somewhere to live in the local community is very important, because even if people have jobs to start when they arrive they can't stay if they don't have a house. Having contingency plans like this is crucial.
"The other big takeaway from Nhill was the neighbourhood house, which support migrants when they put their roots in the community. When families come to a new town maybe one of them is employed, and the other stays at home. In Nhill the neighbourhood house welcomed and organised activities for those adult migrants staying at home so they weren't isolated in their new community. They were learning English in those houses and skills like arts and crafts."
Mr Musoni said in Rupanyup he was impressed by the community encouraging new residents to acquire their own car and drivers' licences.
He spoke to third-generation Rupanyup farmer and Bendigo Bank director David Matthews and Luv-a-duck's John and Margaret Millington as part of his research for the toolkit.
He has also served as chair of Great Lakes Agency for Peace and Development, a Sydney-based organisation which helps to resettle refugees in Australia.
"We have had a lot of interest in communities across Australia about using the toolkit," he said.
"(The Riverina towns of) Leeton and Griffith desperately need people for employment, as do Warwick and St George in Queensland, so they will now have the tools to own that process of settling new migrants like Nhill and Rupanyup have."
Rupanyup's settlement story not over
Rupanyup Rural Migration Initiative spokesman Malcolm Uhe said a lack of suitable housing remained an issue.
"We actually created our project using an early draft version of the Regional Australia Institute's tool kit," he said.
"We are actively dealing with five families that are keen to come to town, but at this stage we have only been able to secure long-term accommodation for one of them."
Mr Uhe said a new company set up by RRMI - Builing Rupanyup - is renovating a home in town purchased using $120,000 in money invested by the community.
"We've got to have weekend accommodation so people can come and experience what the town is like, and then if a person says yes to a job in town we then need rental accommodation for them to live in until a house becomes available," he said.
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