Three population trends that should be on your radar
The people living in regional Australia are creating vibrant towns and cities.
Every year, more people are choosing to make the move and join the 8.8 million Australians who call regional communities home.
But the conversation about population trends in regional Australia has too often been limited to lamenting the outflow of young Australians to the city.
This focus and the challenges faced by many small rural towns has led many Australians to the idea that people are moving from regions to the city and causing widespread population decline.
The RAI’s research shows that widespread decline is a myth, the regional population is growing and there is much more to the story.
The key point is that internal migration from regions to cities and from cities to the regions has been broadly in balance in recent years.
As people enter new stages of life, they start to re-evaluate their priorities. Young people do move from the regions to chase education and the bright lights, but Super Boomers and Regional Returners are two groups who are moving back to the regions in large numbers.
Super Boomers are Baby Boomers choosing to stay in, or move to, regional Australia. They are proving to be dynamic and active contributors in a variety of areas including entrepreneurship, mentoring, leadership and volunteering.
More than 2 million Baby Boomers are living outside of the major capital cities. The size and contribution of this group means that Baby Boomers are not just another generation for regional Australia. They are a dynamic asset, capable of bringing real and positive change to their communities.
Like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, Regional Returners have realised that there really is no place like home.
While they may have left regional Australia in their late teens and early twenties in search of work, education and travel, as Regional Returners enter their 30s and 40s, many are moving back to the regions.
Regions can offer a lifestyle and quality of life that is beyond the reach of most in the city. In turn, the communities that people return to, and become a part of, benefit from new skills and resources that can be vital to their future.
The Regional Australia Institute has also identified a potential third contributor to regional success – international migrants.
Migrants account for half of our national population growth and they are a key part of the regional population story.
In 2011, more than 1 million overseas-born people were living in regional Australia. These people have helped to boost regional economies and help to strengthen and diversify our communities.
However, the real win-win of settling international migrants in regional Australia is yet to be fully explored. The work by the Regional Australia Institute will identify the contribution of migrants and start a conversation about a future approach to regional settlement.
People are one of the most important asset for any region. Understanding the changing regional population is essential for regional leaders and policy decision-makers.
Regional communities with growth potential should look at the different patterns of population mobility and seek to work with these trends to attract new people.
It’s time to put aside the myths about our regional populations and focus on the trends driving new people to joining our regional communities.
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