The Southern Downs region is a Local Government Area located in Queensland, on the western side of the Great Dividing Range, and along the state’s boundary with New South Wales. The region has two main towns, Warwick and Stanthorpe, which are located about 2 hours and 2.5 hours’ drive respectively from Brisbane. The region has an area of 7,120 km2, and was created in 2008 following the amalgamation of the Stanthorpe and Warwick Shire Councils. The Southern Downs has a diverse economy with the largest industries being agriculture, construction, manufacturing, retail, and health care and social services. According to the 2016 census, the region’s population was just over 35,000 of which approximately 10.4% of people were born overseas and 4.3% spoke a language other than English at home.
Southern Downs Regional Council acknowledges that the Southern Downs region has a long history of migrant settlement which has led to their rich and culturally diverse communities, and they also welcome many international backpackers each year to work in their agricultural industries.
Council has supported the beneficial work of the local Southern Downs Refugee and Migrant Network (SDRAMN) which has been operating in the region since 2016. One of their objectives is “to provide welcome and offer friendship and practical assistance to refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in the Southern Downs region, supporting them to transition successfully to life in our community”. The work of SDRAMN contributes to Council’s Shaping Southern Downs vision that the region be a liveable destination for new migrants. Through its community grants program, Council has supported some of SDRAMN’s projects and activities in the past to support migrants in the region, to raise the profile of the different cultures within our region, enhance inclusiveness and celebrate social and cultural diversity.
Southern Downs Regional Council continues its commitment to celebrate cultural diversity and support migrants and refugees within the Southern Downs community by holding regular Citizenship Ceremonies and supporting events, festivals, projects and other initiatives hosted by community organisations, services and groups in the region. The region has a strong spirit of inclusiveness across all community groups and encourages a welcoming atmosphere to all who choose to make the Southern Downs their home.