An Indian migrant who now calls Henty home has opened up on his 14-year ordeal to become a permanent Australian resident.
Reju Raphel relocated to Melbourne as a student in 2008 before he made the move to Henty in 2016 for employment in retail.
After spending thousands of dollars on applications, Mr Raphel finally received permanent status last October.
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"I was a student in Melbourne and went through various subjects to get permanent residency granted, but nothing worked," he said.
"Plenty of money of course, but it wasn't about the money, it was the waiting and the uncertainty of the future. There was family pressure, but my family was so supportive and would tell me things were going to be OK.
"It took lots of my energy. There was lots of frustration, disappointment and I felt all of those emotions alone."
As part of his education, Mr Raphel had to spend a minimum of two years in a regional area and was unsure of what to expect when he arrived at Henty.
"It was really hard at the beginning, but Henty gave me a really warm welcome. It was the best decision I've ever made," he said.
"I was in a lost head space, but Henty brought me back to the centre and I could see myself clearly.
"I would like to see more people move to regional areas. It's the best place to start a family and there's plenty of opportunity."
Regional Development Australia Murray chief executive Edwina Hayes said the agency supported around 200 skilled migrants to come to the region and take up job vacancies each year.
Mrs Hayes spends many hours each week talking with new migrants who have recently moved to the region from Melbourne or Sydney.
"These workers fill vacancies across a wide range of our local businesses and industries, but have especially been needed in our local manufacturing, health and caring services, hospitality and professional services in the past two years," she said.
"Making newcomers to the region feel welcome is an important part of continuing to attract workers and keep people who've moved here in our community.
"We have such a wonderful growing diverse range of food experiences, arts, crafts, dance and theatre productions that people moving to the area from cities bring with them."
Mrs Hayes said it was "incredibly heartwarming and rewarding" to see the cherished contribution of skilled migrants such as Mr Raphel.
"The impact of Reju's retail management skills in Henty are only eclipsed by his cricket and community leadership contributions," she said.
"It's delightful to see Reju a happy permanent resident after his 14-year journey from humble but supportive beginnings," she said.
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