WIMMERA Development Association will receive $70,000 from the State Government to continue the Regional Skilled Migration Program for another year.

Association executive director Jo Bourke said she was pleased the program would continue after the government failed to provide money in the 2012-13 State Budget.

The program, which will continue until June 30, 2013, attracts professionals from overseas to work in the Wimmera’s health and agricultural industries.

“I am pleased that it has been funded again,” Mrs Bourke said. “It is a really important program and provides important support to regional businesses that cannot fill jobs with regional people.”

Regional migration manager Janet Heard said Wimmera trades also relied on skilled migrants because of a depletion of skills in the region.

“Traditionally it has also been difficult to attract people to agriculture and to hospitality,” she said. “But because we’re attracting skilled migrants through word of mouth, they’re settling in the area and are sharing their culture and cuisine.

“For example, the thriving Indian population attracts new people and so Stawell has a new Indian restaurant.”

Ms Heard said people from the UK, particularly Ireland, along with Greece and Spain, had applied to come to Australia because of the economic downturn.

“We are getting emails every day,” she said.

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