Regional Opportunities Australia (ROA) was officially launched by Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AO QC, Governor of New South Wales, at Government House, Sydney on Wednesday 14th August.

ROA, a subsidiary of HOST International, was established earlier this year in Sydney with a mission to connect people of migrant and refugee backgrounds with employment and small business opportunities in regional Australia. ROA’s objective is to positively transform the lives of migrants and refugees who may be unemployed or underemployed by helping them obtain regional employment, build fulfilling lives and integrate faster so they can make meaningful contributions to Australian society, while also aiming to renew and advance the regional economy.

“Despite being skilled, a large number of migrants and refugees struggle to find employment in the cities yet there is a huge demand in regional areas for more local labour,” explained ROA’s CEO, Mahir Momand.

“ROA’s job is to connect this demand with the supply of skilled workers, as well as to educate people of refugee and migrant background that there are job opportunities in regional areas to match their skillset, and that there are welcoming regional communities ready to embrace them.”

ROA currently works with communities in NSW, VIC, and the ACT, with plans to expand to additional states and territories during its next phase. Since commencing operations earlier this year, ROA has onboarded nearly 100 applicants (almost 250 people including spouses and children) who are currently being assisted to become job ready, with 20 of them currently being interviewed by regional employers for potential roles. Their skillsets are diverse, spanning medical doctors, engineers, office workers, truck drivers, and meat inspectors. A total of five applicants have already been successfully placed into jobs and have moved with their families to regional areas.

Led by CEO Mahir Momand, an Afghan refugee himself, and COO Emmanuel Musoni, a regional settlement expert, ROA is overseen by Patrons Wendy Machin and Wendy McCarthy AO.

ROA’s key point of difference is that it is currently the only specialised end-to-end support service available for migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and Australian citizens who have working rights and want to permanently resettle into regional communities. ROA’s services include bespoke assistance with resume preparation, interview skills, qualification recognition, and cultural training; the identification of jobs and small business opportunities in regional areas, and information on various regional areas; as well as support with relocation and resettlement in the form of regional mentors and other services that are available.

ROA works closely with regional councils and communities to ensure smooth and sustainable transition of migrants and refugees into regional lives. The regional areas where ROA operates offer cheaper housing, lower cost of living and a stronger sense of belonging.

Commenting on the launch, Governor Beazley, said: “The settlement of migrants and refugees into regional areas has great potential to be a ‘win-win’ for local communities and for the individuals and families who come to be part of these communities, reflecting the wonderfully diverse nation that we are. To realise this potential we need engaged and sustainable support services to assist with planning, relationship building and mentoring. I am delighted to officially launch Regional Opportunities Australia and look forward to the contribution ROA will make to assist migrant and refugees families as they successfully settle in regional areas.”

For more information on ROA please visit their website.