15 December 2023

These women's job is to take the stress out of moving to Goulburn

| John Thistleton
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Two women walk in a park

Ally Dunwoodie and her assistant Jane Purcel, known as ‘Local Connectors’, in Belmore Park, Goulburn. Photo: Regional Development Australia.

Let’s face it, finding a new hairdresser isn’t something people relish. Or finding a family doctor for that matter, or a new school suitable for your children, even a vet.

Little wonder then that people are reluctant to move. But places outside metropolitan areas are becoming so desperate for essential workers the NSW Government has stepped in and is providing a personalised concierge service to help people take the leap and move to a regional city like Goulburn.

One of eight pilot locations, Goulburn is not as desperate as some other towns and cities, but has a shortage of teachers, GPs and other workers.

Early in the new year the government will undertake a major campaign in metropolitan areas to entice essential workers to move to the bush. The campaign is aimed at bringing government and non-government workers in the health and education sectors including teachers – even childcare workers and staff for aged care homes – to places like Goulburn.

Under the pilot scheme Goulburn Mulwaree has been expanded to include Upper Lachlan, Queanbeyan-Palerang and Yass Valley local government areas.

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Heading up Goulburn’s welcome experience is Ally Dunwoodie and assistant Jane Purcell. Jane grew up in Goulburn and Ally arrived in 2009 for work as a teacher at Trinity College and knows personally how challenging it can be to move somewhere new.

She knows hairdressers too. She says they come with as many skill sets as people do with different requirements, from ones who specialise in vibrant colours, African styles or hot razor shaves for men.

“I have learned a lot about being in the Goulburn region through this job because there were a lot of things I didn’t know existed until I had to find out for a client,” Ally said.

In a tight rental market Ally will offer her services to help newcomers.

“We work one-on-one with real estate agents at different times; they let us know what real estate properties that might be appropriate (for new arrivals),” she said. “We can also refer them to properties that might be more suitable for them, closer to the hospital and answer those questions that they might not have without talking with someone on the ground.”

She will not only recommend removalists, she will organise quotes for people to make their shifting easier. “The job is a connector, we make those connections wherever possible, whether it is to community groups, real estate agents or whatever they need,” she said.

“I refer people who I deal with personally. If they ask for a GP I would say this is the GP I take my family to, but these are the other GPs in the area,” Ally said.

People in uniform in a park

Making the move to Goulburn, from left educator Naomi Wamboi, police officer Matthew Donoghue, Department of Communities and Justice employee Fidelis Omocho, health worker Trixie Ollerhead, and firefighter Chris Corcoran. Photo: Regional Development Australia.

Ally says that while relocation can be scary, “it doesn’t have to be. As your ‘Local Connector’, I’m here to help you”.

The ‘Welcome Experience’ is designed to help with everyday things, such as helping find a place to live, removalists, locating dentists, GPs, beauticians, hairdressers, dog walkers or babysitters. The Welcome Experience can also help clients discover schooling options for their children, and even help with partner employment.

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Ally and Jane are keen to support teachers, police officers, paramedics, firefighters, Department of Communities and Justice employees, health care professionals, GPs, dentists, aged care staff, and childcare workers make a positive move to regional living.

If you have recently moved to the Goulburn region and want to make more meaningful connections in your new community, or know someone who is thinking about moving, please reach out to [email protected] or visit this website.

“The NSW Government wants people in metropolitan areas to recognise how good the opportunities are regionally and we are a friendly, personal person at the other end to answer their questions and make that transition a little smoother for them,” Ally said.

Ally loves Goulburn’s proximity to Canberra, the South Coast and Snowy Mountains, its close-knit community and facilities she needs for her young family. “It’s a lovely place,” she said.

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