New South Wales will be the first state to embrace Australia’s new Safe Haven Enterprise Visa scheme (SHEV), which will grant a five year visa to asylum-seekers willing to live, work, or study in regional NSW.

NSW Premier Mike Baird said the scheme will provide labour to rural regions and offer security for asylum seekers.

“As Australia’s economic powerhouse, NSW has an obligation to open its arms to those who are genuine refugees,” Mr Baird said in a statement.

Around 8,000 asylum seekers, currently on bridging visas and living in New South Wales will be eligible for the five-year visa from July 1 this year.

The South Australian government is yet to commit to the SHEV, despite having one of the lowest regional population growth rates in Australia.

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Migrants fruitpicking in Young in regional NSW.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, regional South Australia population rates performed very badly from 2013-2014.

In the 12 months leading up to 2014, Berri in the state’s Riverland, had a population decline of 80 people. Kangaroo Island recorded the largest and fastest population increase of all of SA with 690 new residents to the area.

To put this growth rate into perspective Hunter Valley in NSW welcomed 3,700 new residents within the same period.

According to a study by Deloitte Access Economics, a refugee resettlement in country Victoria created new jobs and added millions to a struggling rural town’s economy.

In the town of Nhill in Western Victoria, 170 refugees from Myanmar (Burma) resettled in the town in 2010. The resettlement created 70 full-time jobs and added $40 million to Nhill’s economy.

Managing Director of Migration Solutions, Mark Glazbrook believes that the Federal Government could introduce a skilled stream in Australia’s humanitarian program allowing Australia to increase the number of humanitarian visas available annually.

“Such a program could be developed in conjunction with the SHEV program,” he said.

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