Faced with the challenge of attracting and retaining people to live and work in outback Queensland, a husband and wife team have implemented changes to ensure new staff felt welcomed not only into their business, but the whole community.
Cunnamulla Bakery owners Nick and Kate Land have gone to great lengths to fill their team, helping willing workers with visas, buying and furnishing accommodation, ordering in traditional and cultural foods, and facilitating social connections to ensure migrants felt at home in the town.
"Recruiting staff has been our biggest program, that's why we've gone the way of helping people with visas and immigration," Mr Land said.
Mr Land said there was a big cultural difference in the meat and fruit and vegetables migrants could access in regional areas versus back home, so they add many of their favourites to their wholesale orders, including the popular snake bean.
"They get it a lot easier in the metropolitan areas due to the higher population, but a lot of the shops out here find it very hard to justify ordering it in due to the distance," he said.
"If you can get good staff, you look after them. That's what my motto has always been."
Cunnamulla Bakery employs six staff, including their current baker Fida from Malaysia.
Mr Land said she was a huge asset to their business, as well as her husband Eddie, who jumps in to help.
"They are a bit hesitant to come out at first, but I've spoken to many of them and they're very happy living here now," he said.
"Different nationalities bring different ideas, different types of food. We enjoy having a multicultural team, we can sit down and talk about what products we're going to make and what we can do to improve variety."
However, Mr Land said more help was still needed to boost the area.
"Governments need to have a really good look at these rural areas because the skilled labour is just not there," Mr Land said.
"Instead of segregating them in the main cities, I think there needs to be more incentives for skilled migrants to work in rural areas when they arrive. A lot of these towns could sustain themselves a lot better than they are now.
"There are plenty of jobs available and businesses waiting to welcome them with open arms."
The Lands' hard work has paid off, winning them the Individual Award in the inaugural Welcoming Cities Awards for Change.
The awards are held in Canberra and celebrate leading practice and innovation in advancing welcoming and inclusive communities.
Paroo Shire Council CEO Cassie White said the couple deserved the recognition.
"It's fantastic to see Nick and Kate from the Cunnamulla Bakery be recognised for the hard work they have put into welcoming their workers into not only their business, but into the community."
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