David and Shirley Parkinson moved to Kirkstall in 1980 and built their dairy farm empire from scratch.
Five sons and decades later, the Parkinson family work over 2500 dairy cattle over three farms stretching over 6500 acres.
During that time, recruiting overseas workers, backpackers and students has played a vital role in the day-to-day dairy operations.
"We've had overseas workers for a long, long time," family patriarch and farm owner David Parkinson said.
"This is a tough industry, not a lot of Australians want to come out here and do this work.
"We try our best to recruit local, but times are getting tough."
Help is around the corner for the Parkinsons and many businesses like theirs, with the Great South Coast region's Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) to roll out before Christmas this year.
To mark the breakthrough Wannon MP Dan Tehan was joined by Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman at the Parkinson's farm on Thursday to discuss the program.
"We're now seeing the first takeup of the DAMA, and today is important because one of the most crucial things is to get the south-west dairy industry using the DAMA to meet their employment needs," Mr Tehan said.
"Obviously we want farmers to employ Australians first but where they can't get their workers - and we have such a tight employment market here in south-west Victoria - to be able to bring that overseas labour in to ensure we can continue to grow our farming communities and then grow our local communities.
"That is what the DAMA is going to enable us to do."
Minister Coleman said the federal government had reduced the migration intake in Australia to just over 160,000 people, marking "the lowest number for quite some time" and it was set to drop further in the future.
"Within this program we are strongly focusing on migration to regional areas, the fact is we've had very strong population growth in metropolitan areas but we haven't had that same growth in regional areas," Mr Coleman said.
"We can create opportunities in regional Australia for migrants to join local communities, to help Australian business by filling those skill gaps and helping those Australian businesses to grow so they can employ more Australians."
Migrant workers sponsored through the DAMA will have to commit to live and work in regional Australia for three years before they can apply for permanent residency, Mr Coleman said.
Warrnambool City Council says the GSC region's DAMA is currently available for 27 approved occupations, mainly in agriculture and hospitality sectors.
The local jobs include a slaughterer, meat process worker, truck driver, chef, cafe manager, mechanic and farm operator. The full list can be found here.
13 of the occupations include English language concessions.
The Warrnambool program is limited to 100 positions for the first year.
It uses the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa (subclass 482) and provides a pathway to permanent residency.
To access the DAMA, employers like Mr Parkinson sponsor a worker, who then applies for a visa.
"I think it's going to be a great scheme, its as much about them wanting to stay in Australia as it is about us," Mr Parkinson continued.
"We've got to create an environment where they feel safe and see a good future for themselves. It's not about the money side of things, it's about their well-being.
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