TOOWOOMBA and south-west Queensland needs to take on more migrants to ensure sustainable growth, according to the head of an independent economic research body.
Regional Australia Institute CEO Jack Archer believes an increased migrant population that was properly integrated and supported would counteract the outflow of Australians from regional Queensland and create more job opportunities.
Speaking at a forum in Toowoomba hosted by Mercy Community Services and Cultural Diversity Hub, Mr Archer said Toowoomba was well-placed to take on hundreds more migrant workers thanks to its consistent growth.
"It should definitely be higher and I don't think that setting a target is the right way to get things started," he said at the Toowoomba Library yesterday.
"Toowoomba's one of the places in the country that has a good solid rate of growth and it's also growth that's founded in a range of different drivers.
"When we look at Toowoomba, we think it's probably the regional city in Australia that's just going like you'd like all of them to go."
Mr Archer, who speaks to all sides of politics advocating for regional Australia, said rural communities could only bring in immigrants if they were willing to try and integrate them through a variety of means.
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But he said the benefits of strong migrant intakes included job opportunities.
"It goes wrong when people don't engage with each other, when a community that's been there for years won't engage with the new population," he said.
"Racism is real and we've seen movements to reject multiculturalism but I think the risk is we overstate how strong the effect (multiculturalism) has in places like Toowoomba.
"We are seeing the problems that people are talking about in rural areas and this is the only trend that's turning that around."
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