A new federal government population plan has attracted mixed responses from Bendigo-based leaders.
The government says it will create 23,000 places for skilled migrants under two new visas that will require they spend three years in a regional area before they become eligible for permanent residency.
Immigration Minister David Coleman said this was an increase of 14,000 places on current programs with regional residency requirements, under which migrants spent two years in a regional area.
Mr Coleman said one current scheme had a 99 per cent retention rate, so the government was confident the new program would succeed in drawing more people to the regions.
Chairwoman of Regional Cities Victoria and City of Greater Bendigo mayor Margaret O'Rourke said regional centres were calling out for skills and RCV had been asking for more targeted skilled migration.
While Bendigo was considered to be at full employment, Cr O'Rourke said manufacturers in particular were in need of skilled workers.
But she said regional cities also needed support for migrants in the way of good settlement programs and infrastructure investment.
Cr O'Rourke said the new visas requiring skilled migrants to stay in regional areas longer "goes a long way" to encouraging them to stay in regional areas, by giving them the opportunity to become involved in the community.
She said Regional Cities Victoria had called for a national population plan.
Regional Capitals Australia, a local government group of which the City of Greater Bendigo is a member, also welcomed the new plan and what it might mean for regional areas.
The plan also includes 4270 new scholarships over four years for Australian and international students to study at a regional university or vocational training provider.
The temporary graduate visa will be extended by one year for international students who have studied and lived in a regional area and wish to continue doing so.
But Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services executive officer Kate McInnes said the plan seemed to be more a plan about easing congestion in major cities, and lacked supports for migrants moving to regional areas.
A major focus of the plan is mitigating the impact of growing populations on major cities by reducing the annual cap on migrants from 190,000 to 160,000 and investing in infrastructure to combat congestion.
"I would've liked to see a plan to support people when they choose to move to regional and rural settings," Ms McInnes said.
The major reasons migrants gave for moving to cities, she said, were connections and work.
The government's plan includes schemes it says are aimed at supporting migrants, but they are not specific to regional areas.
These include hubs connecting migrant families and youth with their community, grants for people to learn new languages, and funding for community organisations.
Ms McInnes said she would also like to see the federal government invest in support for international students, similar to the work LCMS had done with La Trobe University with state government funding.
Bendigo MP Lisa Chesters said expressed concern about the potential for exploitation of migrant workers.
Ms Chesters said the government had not yet addressed exploitation of temporary migrant workers.
She also wanted to know more detail about what industries and jobs the migrants would fill, and measures in place to ensure local workers had first access to jobs ahead of temporary migrants.
The government also promises to provide better transport connections between regional centres and cities, particularly through rail.
Part of the plan includes the Regional Growth Fund, the Mobile Black Spot Program, and the Building Better Regions Fund.
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