Refugee resettlement adds $40m to struggling Victorian town's economy

Rohingya Muslim men fleeing from ethnic strife against Rakhine Buddhists in Myanmar, are brought by Bagladeshi border guards to a boat jetty at Shahporir Dwip in Taknaf, Bangladesh, Monday, June 18, 2012. (File: AP Photo/ Saurabh Das)

A study has found refugee resettlement added $40 million to a struggling rural Victorian town's economy.

Refugee resettlement has created 70 full-time jobs and added $40 million to a struggling rural Victorian town's economy, a new study shows.

Since early 2010, about 170 Karen refugees from Myanmar (Burma) have resettled at Nhill in western Victoria's wheatbelt, with the majority taking up work with poultry producer Luv-a-Duck which has been able to expand its operations.

A study by Deloitte Access Economics has found the refugees have been a social and economic boon for Nhill which had been grappling with an aging and declining population.

CEO of the Hindmarsh Shire Council Tony Doyle told SBS that Nhill's Karen population had boosted its economy, slowed its steady population decline and culturally enriched the community.

"That’s created exposure and awareness of a culture completely different to what people from Nhill may have seen before," he said.

Mr Doyle said the Karen were kind and hardworking people who "valued community strongly."

He said that while most of the Karen people in Nhill had come to work for Luv-a-Duck, many had since branched out in to the community to work in other areas. Mr Doyle expected many more Karen people would move to Nhill in coming years.

He said Nhill was a positive example of refugee resettlement.

"I think Nhill is an extraordinary example of what can be achieved by a small rural community."

The Deloitte study was conducted through consultation with Karen families and community leaders in the area as well as local businesses and service providers.

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