SMALL, dying rural communities in Queensland and NSW could be given a boost under a program to resettle refugees from war-torn Africa.

 Three African families have already moved to the rural community of Mingoola on the border of New South Wales and Queensland.

 There are more than 200 on the waiting list for resettlement.

The innovative program helps local communities in decline who would otherwise face the prospect of schools closing and basic services being shut.

Australian Story is reporting on the situation tonight, quoting local woman Julia Harpham.

"Many of us have children who work in the city and aren't going to come back to the farm because things have been so tough on the land," Ms Harpham said.

"You don't like to see a community die. And there's not much joy in a place with no children."

Three years ago, the local progress association decided to build on the region's migrant past and looked for refugees willing to move to the area.

But when they began contacting refugee agencies they were told there would not be adequate support for refugees in the bush.

"Every time I contacted any kind of refugee service they all said, 'oh, no, these people need to stay in the city,'" Ms Harpham told Australian Story.

Emmanuel Musoni with a few of the newest children of Mingoola. ABC News: Kristine Taylor
Emmanuel Musoni with a few of the newest children of Mingoola. ABC News: Kristine Taylor

Meanwhile in Sydney, refugee advocate Emmanuel Musoni was grappling with problems in his community from central Africa. They had been displaced from Rwanda and neighbouring countries during years of bitter civil war.

The majority had rural backgrounds before having to flee their homes for refugee camps.

"If you ask them, 'What was your dream when you applied to come to Australia and boarded the plane,' they say, 'We hoped we were going to be put in the countryside, to connect ourselves with agricultural life and have a garden'," Mr Musoni said.

Instead they were resettled in cities where employment prospects were few, the environment was intimidating and many became depressed and isolated.

What do you think? Is this a good idea given the struggle some farmers face in getting workers? Or should Australia's unemployed be doing these types of jobs?




Some of the comments on Facebook

Dianne Hockey I did not see Australian Story....but what I do know is that when immigrants need to assimilate and they do; they contribute to our communities.........assimilation is the key to a vibrant immigration policy.........bringing people of different cultures together with an acceptance of their new country origins.

Jim Graham Don't see what the problem is I grew up in that country mingoola bonshaw texas Ashford for as long as I've known has always been home to a wide range of different races Italians Greeks spaniards ll working their arses off and rearing bloody big family's on some of the roughest country going and not a cross word to be heard all I can say if they want hard work good on them

Karen Macdonald Hang on there is only so much work available in country australia . Notice this was only seasonal work not full time that's why there is a shortage of Australian workers they all had to leave to find full time employment.

How about you also support cries for the basin plan to be reviewed and changed to return water and jobs to Country regions. Just putting immigrants out here isn't going to solve issue Australians in rural areas are dealing with.
Great story but not a new one as been happening for years and only scratches the surface.

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