Latest News - June 2023

The Welcome to Central Goldfields project has been recognised with a high commendation at the Local Government Professionals (LGPro’s) Awards for Excellence.

The award, presented in the Corporate and Community Planning category, coincides with an evaluation report on the Welcome to Central Goldfields project being endorsed at the June Council Meeting following the project’s conclusion in January, 2023.

The Welcome to Central Goldfields project began in July 2022 in response to staff and skills shortages affecting businesses to attract skilled migrants and make the Shire more culturally diverse and inclusive.

The project was delivered in partnership with the community through a Community Reference Group and Blackfella Films – a production company that documented the project.

The project was supported by the community, with migrant families welcomed to the Shire and provided with links to community groups and activities and assisted to find short-term accommodation, including billeting.

The project also successfully met one of its key aims to raise awareness of workforce issues and the benefits (economic and social) of recruiting migrant people.

The key learnings and recommendations for this project will continue to be addressed as part of the Council's Economic Development Strategy 2020-2025.

Central Goldfields Shire Councillor and Chair of the Community Reference Group Chris Meddows-Taylor said Council was thrilled to receive the LGPro award.

“The Welcome to Central Goldfields project was a significant project for our community to deliver, it was unique to Central Goldfields and would not have been possible without the support of our local community.

“This award is due recognition of the community’s backing for the project – our Community Reference Group was critical in providing links to businesses and community members – including supporting the participants who moved here.

“It’s testament to the willingness for community to come together to solve a problem – in this case a workforce shortage. Our thanks go to each of the members of the Community Reference Group, businesses and the volunteers who were involved.

“The evaluation report clearly defines what could have been done to support the project better as well as recommendations and next steps for the Community Reference Group to consider and prioritise.

“We now have a path forward that community and businesses can build on, and together we can use these key learnings to plan for the future.”

What is the Welcome to Central Goldfields project?

In 2022, businesses and community leaders partnered to lead a pilot project to attract skilled migrants to the Shire – and specifically Maryborough. It's was an ambitious initiative but an exciting opportunity to create a long-term plan for relocation to the Shire.

The 12 month pilot - Welcome to Central Goldfields - was in response to staff and skills shortages that are affecting businesses big and small – both locally and nationally. The project now provides a platform for advocacy at all levels of government on workforce and housing needs.

The project was not only about filling jobs. It’s was also focused on the Shire becoming more culturally diverse and learning and growing together with residents from various backgrounds. Through the Community Vision locals said they want to be an inclusive place and this pilot is another step towards that goal.

The pilot project was filmed by Blackfella Films.

Who led the project?

Key leaders of the project have formed a Community Reference Group, they are:

Community Reference Group members are happy to be contacted by members of the community about the project.

For more information about the Community Reference Group, see the Statement of Intention on the right hand side of this page.

In the media

Fast facts about the project

Over a number of years, local business leaders have been in conversation with Council regarding increasingly complex issues with attracting and retaining staff, particularly for skilled roles.

This issue was also recognised in Council’s Economic Development Strategy 2020-2025 and to better understand the problems facing local businesses, Council’s Economic Development Team invited over 200 businesses to respond to a detailed survey (see the survey results under the Key documents section - right hand side of this page).

While grappling with workforce issues, local business and community leaders were approached by a documentary film maker, interested to shine a light on the divide between urban and rural Australia, and to elevate and promote all the ‘gold’ to be found in rural and regional Australian towns.

Local business and community leaders quickly grasped the mutually beneficial opportunity presented by Blackfella Films and determined to work alongside the company for a pilot project which would involve relocating skilled migrants to the Shire by matching them with vacant jobs (not being filled by local people).

Welcome to Central Goldfields is a 12-month pilot project which aims to attract skilled migrants to Central Goldfields Shire to address staff shortages and promote a younger, more culturally diverse community overtime.

Key intended outcomes include:

Retention of skilled workers recruited through the pilot project

  • New skilled workers choose to stay longer term in Central Goldfields
  • A Relocation Playbook is delivered to repeat and scale the process of attracting and retaining skilled migrant workers to Central Goldfields

Deeper insights into how to expand as a diverse and inclusive community

  • Deeper insights into what it means to be an inclusive community
  • A growth and expansion of community leadership
  • A model for integrated, place based, partnership work for leading change (community groups, services and local government)

Deeper insights into how to facilitate sustainable growth through workforce and housing strategies

  • Deeper engagement with local business leaders and Council
  • Insights into how to access housing that's not on the market (solving a key workforce challenge)
  • Data and insights to develop an Attraction and Retention Strategy for Central Goldfields
  • Advocacy on workforce and housing needs in the medium and long term


  • Deliver on and expand existing economic development and; community wellbeing strategies
  • Deliver real research to feed into others projects including social and affordable housing and proponent led development
  • Lead by example and help other regional communities learn how to solve their problems through innovative approaches

Phase one - Project planning (July – August)

  • Community Reference Group
  • Project plan
  • Communication plan
  • Skills and housing audits

Phase two - Welcoming new residents - October - December (and ongoing)

  • Communications campaign
  • Welcome pack
  • Buddy system
  • Events

This stage will be filmed by Blackfella Films

Phase three - Refine the economic development strategy for the Shire - January – June 2023 (and ongoing)

  • Documentation of progress and key learnings (inc. community benefits)
  • Advocacy
  • Relocation playbook
  • Attraction and retention strategy

Blackfella Films will document the journey of the new residents through a three-month period in October – December 2022.

Their work will focus on the positive impact that people from migrant backgrounds can have on communities and how migrant families can themselves benefit from life beyond our capital cities.

Blackfella Films is an independent television production company with offices in Melbourne and Sydney that specialises in making high quality and innovative factual/documentary (Books that Made Us, Addicted Australia) and drama programs (Redfern Now, Total Control).

There is significant strategic precedence for the pilot project as well as range of opportunities to better align with local and regional programs, plans and strategies currently under development.

Local strategies (Central Goldfields Shire Council)

CGS Community Vision 2021 - 2031

  • We are a welcoming shire

CGSC Council Plan 2021 - 2025

  • Changing the narrative
  • Multicultural celebration

CGSC Economic Development Strategy 2020 – 2025

  • Invest in People and Place
  • A Thriving Business Community
  • Tailored Economic Development Practice

Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan 2021-2025

  • Advocate for social change
  • Foster social connection and diversity

Tourism and Events Strategy 2020 - 2025

  • Shift the narrative around the Shire’s Identity and Perception

Regional strategies

Loddon Mallee South Regional Growth Plan

  • Strengthen our communities, especially in our small towns
  • Strengthen and diversify our economy