The Goulburn Valley is home to many diverse ethnic groups. It has a strong history of welcoming people from different countries and the community has demonstrated strong social inclusion values. However, lack of employment and skills acquisition is still a concern within the community, particularly for young people and the migrant and refugee communities.
In a changed global labour market with reduced opportunities in traditional industries of food production through agriculture and manufacturing, Shepparton has high levels of welfare dependency, poor educational outcomes, high rates of teen pregnancy, low school retention rates, high rates of youth and overall unemployment, large areas of public housing and large indigenous and refugee populations. All indicate and contribute to high levels of disadvantage within the community.
Migrant and refugees are increasingly settling in Shepparton and are well supported initially in settlement, but they struggle to gain employment and build networks and connections with the broader community. Currently 90% of the refugee community is unemployed.
Their children risk early school leaving and long-term intergenerational unemployment. There is potential for young people to become disengaged and marginalised through loss of hope and disconnectedness.
There is considerable evidence that clearly links unemployment, poor health, relationship breakdown and prison with non-completion of secondary school, lack of qualifications and difficulty with basic numeracy and literacy in Australia and in other developed countries.
The overall cost to our communities due to disadvantage has been estimated in research at in excess of $2.6 billion every year.