A warm welcome in Birchip

Drawn to Australia after holidaying here several times, Shivaprasad (Shiva) Holagundi has found career progression, community and lifestyle in country Birchip. Nestled in Victoria’s stunning Mallee region, Birchip is home to the famous Mallee Bull, a vibrant street-art trail, one of Australia’s best vanilla slices and some very glorious sunsets. With a population of just on 700 people it’s quite the contrast from Shiva’s childhood home in Davanagere, India, a town of a similar size but home to around 435,000.

As a Civil Engineer, access to career opportunities in his field were key to Shiva’s decision to move regionally. After initially settling in Pakenham on Melbourne’s outskirts, he’d had trouble securing a role that aligned with his significant professional experience. He’d been working as a Construction Assistant since his arrival but wasn’t comfortable working outside his professional field. It’s at this point he was connected with social impact organisation Work + Stay who specialise in regional recruitment.

They worked with him to understand his career goals and lifestyle preferences, then matched him with Buloke Shire Council who were seeking a new Capital Projects Officer. Shiva is very much enjoying his new role and the broader workplace which he says is a very positive environment.

Work + Stay also worked with the local real estate community to source accommodation for Shiva in the tight regional rental market. The community is keenly aware of the pressing need for infrastructure professionals like Shiva to support their region’s needs and they were very supportive in helping him find his new home.

More happy news was on the way. After a couple of months settling into his new home Shiva travelled back to India to marry Chaitra, and they returned to Birchip to start their married life together. Both Chaitra and Shiva have formed strong connections in their new community – Shiva says Chaitra already has more friends than he does! A keen sportsperson, Chaitra played State-level badminton in Bangalore and is a fixture at Birchip’s Monday-night indoor sports competition, with Shiva joining her there. Chaitra has also quickly secured a role with a local accounting firm.

Local community organisation Birchip Neighbourhood House have been instrumental in helping Chaitra and Shiva connect into their new community. Work + Stay’s unique community connection model sees them create partnerships with community organisations in each community they place candidates in. These organisations then work directly with newcomers to welcome and support them. For Chaitra and Shiva this meant sharing community meals and attending workshops at Birchip Neighbourhood House, the heart of the community and a thriving hub for people across the area.

Shiva and Chaitra say they have received a very warm welcome. “The Birchip community has been very welcoming and I want to deliver back to the community with my services,” Shiva said when speaking to The Buloke Times recently. “I don’t understand why more qualified workers don’t move to regional areas to take up employment opportunities. Many of them have pre-conceived ideas that rural communities are…not welcoming, but they need to come and see for themselves because we have not found that at all; everyone has been very welcoming.”

If you are an engineering professional who is considering a regional move, or you’re a regional employer with infrastructure or engineering workforce needs then please contact Work + Stay via the details below.

Regional employers: send an email to info@workandstay.com.au

Candidates: register as a candidate at www.workandstay.com.au or send an email to info@workandstay.com.au

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