Come for work, stay for the lifestyle
Lifestyle to return as the driver of regional population changes in Western Australia as fewer people go mining.
The latest ABS figures suggest that the unprecedented rate of population growth experienced in Western Australia has begun to ease as conditions in the mining sector shift into the export phase.
Not surprisingly, the opportunities of the mining boom have driven the highest rates of population growth in recent years.
Western Australia had nine out of the ten fastest growing regions in Australia between 2006 and 2011; all driven by demand for labour from the mining industry.
Emerging evidence suggests that many mining areas have now substantially slowed their rate of growth or even stopped growing.
These areas include Leonora, Menzies, Boddington, Ashburton, East Pilbara, Mount Magnet, Port Hedland, Roebourne and Capel.
Derby-West Kimberley is an exception to the trend, increasing its growth rate to 6.9 per cent in 2012-13.
Very high growth rates are also emerging in coastal areas such as Broome, and in peri-urban areas on the edge of Perth, such as Northam, Chittering and Serpentine-Jarrahdale.
The Regional Australia Institute’s Pathways to Settlement report identifies that lifestyle and affordability factors are drawing people to settle in Western Australia, particularly in the regions surrounding Perth and in the south of the State.
These areas are more attractive because they combine lifestyle, housing affordability and ready connection back to the metropolitan area.
Opportunities in tourism, gas and agribusiness may lead to localised demand spikes and short-term growth patterns. Sustained growth will require proactive government and community responses to the shifting trends in population mobility.
Smart investment will be needed to increase amenity and services to these lifestyle regions; to better connect them to each other and to the State capital.
For the mining boom hubs, particularly in more remote areas, it will be prudent to identify ways to improve liveability and increase the economic diversity of the wider regions. This will be essential to retain and grow populations in the future.
Read the full RAI research report Pathways to Settlement: population mobility in Western Australia from 2001 to 2011 here.