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New migrants seek assistance from community groups

MACKAY has become a hub for international migrants hoping to start their Australian dreams as new residents in the region.

The transition from their home countries to North Queensland can often be overwhelming and isolating, especially for migrants from a non-English speaking background, George Street Neighbourhood Centre (GSNC) multicultural support worker Georgine Crawford said.

New migrants often need assistance accessing schools, hospitals and employment. GSNC also provides help for migrants to navigate Mackay’s public transport network and avoid the more painful wildlife.

Ms Crawford said: “A lot of people come from other countries and have no idea what a stinger is.”

This year, GSNC migrant assistance programs helped around 1000 Mackay residents settle into their new home.

The new Migrant Settlement Program co-ordinator Coralie McKenzie begins her role today to assist newly arrived migrants settle in Mackay. She’ll be facing mounting pressure on her organisation as Mackay’s economic growth draws an influx of migrants to the region.

GSNC co-ordinators are concerned resource shortfalls will not be able to meet the demands of the migrant populations.

Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson said he was supportive of the GSNC multicultural programs, saying they were key to unlocking the potential of new migrants while also creating a harmonious multicultural community.

He warned against federal calls to cut the migration rates, saying it was “public policy being made by the south-eastern corner of Australia”.

“Sydney and Melbourne might be full up – but were not. We’ve got 2000 jobs here we cant fill at the moment.”

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