Meet The Filipinos Transforming Rural Australia

Published: 04 June 2018

Helen

A small rural town has seen a revival after introducing a community of skilled, migrant workers

Helen speaking to The Project
Image 2018 © The Project
The small, rural Aussie town of Pyramid Hill was built off the back of wheat and sheep farming. But over the last yen years, the town has been suffering a population decline.

It was becoming difficult to find skilled local workers, and as a result, the town’s pet food factory and abattoirs were closed down.

So piggery owner Tom Smith decided to take matters into his own hands and look further afield for workers.

Tom now employs 24 Filipinos and said, after “they brought their families out… that’s where the community started kicking in.”

Even the town’s primary school was struggling to stay open prior to the arrival of Filipino families.

Principal Colleen Hampson of St Patrick’s Catholic School said her school now has an enrolment of 18, and 12 are Filipino.

She said, “To be able to share our cultures and learn from one another is a wonderful asset.”

Today, around 100 Filipinos call Pyramid Hill home, and they account for one-fifth of the town’s population.

Filipino community leader, Helen Garchitorena, arrived in Pyramid Hill five years ago through the skilled migration scheme.

She now runs the United Filipino Organisation, which aims to find ways to contribute to the community, and to help others integrate into life at Pyramid Hill.

The locals have warmly welcomed the Filipinos into their community, with an annual Filipino Fiesta, a Filipino grocery store and regular social gatherings.

So with the success of Pyramid Hill, could migrants be the answer to reviving regional Australia?