In comparison with other local government areas on the North Coast, the Richmond Valley LGA has a relatively small proportion of people from culturally diverse backgrounds (5.3%). Of those born overseas there are 382 residents who were born in a mainly non-English speaking countries. The main language spoken at home, other then English is Italian (0.3%) followed by German (0.1%) and Tagalog (Filipino) (0.1%).
The migrant population in the Richmond Valley is not only smaller to many of the migrant populations elsewhere in the state, it also has specific issues which are different to other migrant populations. Most of the migrant population in the Richmond Valley has lived in the area for a very long time. Most migrants are aged and most speak English. Of these populations the Italian and German populations are likely to be aged and the Tagalog population is made up of mostly adult women. There were approximately 40 people from overseas in the Richmond Valley on the night that the census was taken (2006).
Interestingly, while in the process of formulating social plans for Richmond Valley Council in 2006, very few people consulted (even those whom the Community Project Officer knew to be migrants) spoke at all about migrant issues. The only comments that were made related to concern about the need for better statistics on the migrant population and in particular a belief that there were many more Filipino people in the area than was represented by Census data.
Concerns were also raised by service providers about the difficulties that they experienced in being required to provide services for a population (for example translating) when the services were not taken up. One comment was made that it was expected that a number of new migrants might arrive in Richmond Valley from Africa in the near future. Complaints were also made by one person representing migrant issues that often consultations with migrants were only done with new migrants and the issues for more long term migrants were not considered.
Given the lack of comments in relation to this area it is probably fair to make the following points (which the community has not made). With an ageing migrant population the Richmond Valley may soon experience the need for specific migrant aged care services as English skills are often the first skills to be lost as migrants age. In addition to this it could be expected that as the migrant population ages they will want more and more to share their cultural traditions and make a record of their experiences. There also needs to be consideration taken as to why the migrant population is so small in the Richmond Valley and why migrants in the Richmond Valley who were consulted as a part of other consultation groups chose on the whole not to mention migrant issues.
Strategies that have been recommended to Richmond Valley Council in relation to migrants include:
- The development of a cultural plan
- Undertaking to make Ethnic Affairs Priority Statements regularly to the Community Relations Commission
- Develop links to resources in languages other than English for Council staff to utilise should the need arrive and train front counter staff on using an interpreter should the need arise
- Lobby to have more resources provided to the Community Settlement Services project so that they can better access migrants in the Richmond Valley Council area
- Make better statistics about migrant communities available to people and services in the Richmond Valley
There is only one service set up in the Richmond Valley specifically catering to the migrant community: English classes offered through Casino TAFE. The nearest Community Settlement Service is in Lismore, in a neighbouring local government area.