Connections make for strong communities

Published Aug 1, 2023 by Lindy Nieuwenhuizen

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Studies have shown if people moving to a new region are not deeply connected within twelve months of relocating they will move within two years, if not earlier.

Anecdotally, moving house is one of the most stressful things a person can do, then add onto that moving to a new location and anxiety levels can go through the roof.

I have personal experience with this special type of stress – I come from Broken Hill and I have moved house, cities and states multiple times.

These moves didn’t really affect me until I had children and my last move required my three children to move to a different town, away from their friends.

On the first day of their new school, after dropping them off I had to put myself back to bed, I just couldn’t cope with the rest of the day.

Of course my kids were fine, annoyingly so; they had no worries at all and gave me sideways looks as if re-assessing my sanity.

So I come to the role of Community Connector Coordinator with an enormous amount of empathy and understanding for people who choose to upend their lives and move to Shepparton.

As the Community Connector Coordinator I make contact with new professionals who are referred to me by local businesses and organisations, and assist with some of the challenges of relocating including helping to find a home, a job for their partner, childcare and educational options for their children, plus social networking opportunities.

Once I have connected with my client requests for information come thick and fast.

Most are fairly standard – where is the best place to get coffee, where can their children learn to swim, who to talk to about buying a car, but some have definitely surprised me – is there a ghost-hunting group and where can the client’s wife learn poll dancing!

Happily, I was able to help with both those queries.

This assistance is critical as research has shown a person will choose to either stay or leave their job/town/area if their and their family’s life aspirations are not being met by the current set of living, schooling and social arrangements.

And by keeping professionals here once they have moved, it goes a long way to improving the economic outcomes for our region.

The Community Connector Program, since its inception in early 2021, has assisted more than 500 professionals moving to this region.

Interestingly, according to the City of Greater Shepparton website, the average household spend for the latest reporting period was $105,643 so economically, bringing these professionals to our region and assisting them to stay is valuable to our economy.

Needless to say, helping to find and secure a long term rental for the Community Connector Program clients is difficult, and not only because we are in the midst of a housing crisis nation-wide.

Those professionals who are travelling from overseas, which 47% of my clients are, may not have the exact documentation they need for the application process.

It is ironic they are qualified to save a life, design a factory, or monitor food safety but as they may not yet have a driver’s license or an Australian bank account, it is difficult for them to rent a home when they arrive.

Fortunately the Community Connector Program has built up knowledge and networks with our local real estate agencies and together we are helping our new professionals find a home.

Earlier this month, the Committee for Greater Shepparton was a major partner with Council in participating in the 2023 Melbourne Career Expo.

Our stand focussed on promoting the lifestyle on offer in the region as well as the multiple career and study opportunities.

In the 24 hours after the Expo ended, I had already received eight emails from professionals ranging from a civil engineer, a project engineer specializing in water treatment, a marketing manager, an IT specialist, and a mechanical and mechatronics engineer, all requesting their resume be sent around to appropriate businesses and expressing a strong desire to move to regional Victoria; these emails are continuing to come in.

Multiple conversations were had with potential new residents/employees/professionals who expressed surprise and approval at the Community Connector Program and how it would have made a huge difference and help ease relocating when they had moved to a new area.

During the Expo people were asked to fill out a survey about the Greater Shepparton region.

More than 150 people have completed this survey and the results are surprising.

Just over 55% of respondents said they did not know about the Greater Shepparton region prior to attending the Expo and 61% said they had never visited the area.

However, after speaking with the team 77% indicated they would consider moving to Greater Shepparton with fresh air and beautiful sunsets (51%), more family time (44%), art and culture opportunities (48%), and less traffic (42%) all scoring high on the reasons why.

Helping people create a rich and happy life here in Greater Shepparton is such a rewarding job.

Add to that, each professional who comes and stays here will strengthen the both the industry they are employed in and the economy in general, well, that is just a bonus.

To learn more about the Community Connector Program and read some testimonials from previous clients go to the website Community Connector Program | Greater Shepparton: Great Things Happen Here

Lindy Nieuwenhuizen

Lindy Nieuwenhuizen

CEO, Committee for Greater Shepparton

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