There are many cautionary tales for the advocates of bullish population growth for regional centres.
We all know it can be hard moving away from a place where your family and friends live, and you’ve lived most of your life, and trying to build a new life in a new town and a new country.
Of course many of our new residents are fortunate enough to have the support of people to help them settle in and help them become familiar with what services are available to them.
But still it is has been far from easy.
It can be very difficult for couples to find work, even if you’re skilled.
Even if the families settle in to country life some times they may have to move back to Sydney if they don’t find work.
And they are not alone.
Hundreds of refugees in regional centres are facing the same difficulties, even as state and federal government consider programs to relocate more refugees out of the capitals to help ease population strains on the major cities.
But the question of population growth should not only focus on the major cities. Instead, it should be a statewide discussion with major regional centres – including Dubbo – part of the conversation.
Most people can see the potential cultural, economic and compassionate benefits of encouraging refugees to relocate to the bush, but there is plenty of work to do before that potential can be realised.
Dubbo is only a five hour drive to Sydney which makes it the perfect release valve for a Sydney that is bursting at the seams, but this region has much more than just geography to recommend it.
Dubbo also boasts a thriving economy and diversity of local industry that is the envy of other regional cities and you only need look at our rising house prices to see how attractive this city is.
With opportunities in agriculture, health, tourism, or manufacturing Dubbo’s economy has plenty of opportunities for employment.
But no-one gains if refugee families go through the emotional upheaval of moving to the bush if the infrastucture and employment to support them are not in place before they arrive.
We want to give families real hope, not a false dream.
Dubbo will welcome refugees, but the government must help us do so.