Community leaders were urged to recognise the resilience, courage and tenacity of refugees at a regional migration summit held in Wodonga this week.

Gateway Health in partnership with the Department of Premier and Cabinet Victoria, hosted the Regional Migration Summit bringing together key representatives from the Ovens Murray region and beyond to collectively address the unique challenges faced by migrants and refugees settling in the region.

“The summit was an inspiring event where we had a unique opportunity to hear about the many different experiences of migrants and refugees in resettling here,” Gateway Health CEO Trent Dean said.

“I’m thankful to have so many wonderful attendees who helped us identify gaps and agree to some strategies to address them.

“One of the key messages that it drove home to us is that successful resettlement is a health and wellbeing issue and how can those of us, in service delivery, ensure we are helping new arrivals feel welcome in our communities and not putting up barriers.”

Topics discussed by attendees throughout the day included employment, skill recognition, transport, cultural impacts and cohesion and connection.

It followed presentations from Welcoming Cities exploring the data of local migration populations across the Ovens and Murray local government areas.

The data highlights key challenges faced by migrant populations with overseas-born women experiencing lower socio-economic outcomes despite having higher education achievements and almost 300 people with a low proficiency in English needing assistance with core activities.

“We heard about significant impacts and challenges faced by our multicultural communities and the discussion looked to possible solutions and actionable strategies,” Mr Dean said.

“It is recognised that there are some complex issues for vulnerable populations that require strategy across government and the sector.

“We were fortunate to have local politicians and cross-border commissioners involved in the summit and certainly we will continue to work with them on advocating to ensure smoother pathways and positive outcomes for our recently settled migrants.

“It’s on all of us to foster inclusion, encourage connection and enhance community engagement through our organisations for our migrant communities.”