Universal design is mostly associated with the disability community but it is much broader than that. The concept of inclusion means everyone – people from all walks of life regardless of who they are, where they are from and what they can do. The subject of migrants and rural communities are often absent from discussions on inclusion. However, when it comes to economic growth, regions and migrants become the focus of attention. So a new guide on welcoming and inclusive communities is most welcome in this space.
The guide is written with local stakeholders in mind. It is a place-based, community-driven process. Understanding the barriers and enablers for different migrant groups underpins this universal design approach to settlement.
The Planning for Welcoming and Inclusive Communities guide focuses on successful regional migrant settlement. It has steps for making it work, and tools for implementing migration programs. The guidelines are designed to adapt the diverse nature of regions across Australia.
The guideline is based on research and is structured in three parts: an introduction, opportunities of regional migration, and initiating a settlement strategy. Seven appendices complete the document. The steps of assessment, consultation and planning are explained in detail with helpful guidance.
The individuals and organisations involved in the settlement process have an opportunity to contribute to the design of practical policy. Of course, when consultation is done well people begin to feel welcome.
Many migrants […] would preference rural or regional Australia above a major city, because of a strong desire to engage in farming activities. For many, this desire to connect with the land is more important than securing a specific type of employment or cost of living.
The guideline is a joint initiative of Welcoming Cities, Monash Migration and Inclusion Centre and the Queensland Government. The Welcoming Cities organisation has more to say about settling migrants in regional areas.