‘Genuine contribution to Australians’ lives’: Scholarship allowing student to research ‘overlooked’ rural and regional job mobility

Diego Machillanda Flechas has been awarded the inaugural Samuel and June Hordern Scholarship in Rural and Regional Economics for 2023.

Machillanda Flechas joins fellow students Jacklyn Lee and Gavin Williams as the first cohort of University of Melbourne students to win the award generously donated by the descendants of the late Samuel and June Hordern, noted pastoralists.

The scholarship is open to students whose research is informed by rural and regional economics and who have been accepted into either the Honours in Economics or the Master of Economics programs.

Diego Machillanda Flechas smiling in suit
Diego Machillanda Flechas (supplied)

For Machillanda Flechas, the scholarship has not only allowed him to dedicate his time to research but has inspired him to consider “a dimension that is often overlooked”.

Having worked on re-estimating Victoria’s trend unemployment rate during an internship with the Department of Treasury and Finance, he originally intended to focus solely on gender differences in job mobility.

But when considering applying for the Samuel and June Hordern Scholarship, he decided to broaden his research into spatial inequality, and it now explicitly compares voluntary job mobility between urban and regional labour markets.

“Key differences between the two labour markets – in unemployment rates, participation rates, and industry composition – could result in the factors that drive job mobility having different effects for men and women depending on where they live and work and may entail differences in wage growth.”

“Ultimately my focus is one of disadvantage and inequality.”

He says he noticed a gap in the literature—one he hopes his research can fill—and that, as a result of receiving the scholarship, he is now working on publishing his thesis as a working paper and ultimately, in an academic journal.

“This scholarship has encouraged me to refine my research skills as much as I can so that the results of my thesis and any future research may make a genuine contribution to Australians’ lives,” says Machillanda Flechas.