The power of regional knowledge
It is the depth of knowledge that we have about our home-towns and our communities that enables us to understand where a region’s strengths lie and what challenges they face. Understanding the places we live in is the key to empowering people to take advantage of their surrounds and advocate for targeted, effective change where it is required.
Prime Minster Kevin Rudd recently used his first major speech since returning to the top job in June to highlight the need for competitiveness to become a major part of the national policy agenda.It was rather timely therefore, that just prior to this, the RAI released [In]Sight, Australia’s first regional competitiveness index.
[In]Sight provides us with more knowledge than we have ever before had at our disposal to see where and how our regions can advance their productivity, sustainability and prosperity. But while [In]Sight complements a national productivity agenda, there is much more to it.
It is a resource designed to be accessed by all Australians – from different levels of government to business owners, teachers, health workers, young, singles, retirees and families – to enable them to identify the opportunities at their fingertips. Via an online index and interactive map, [In]Sight puts the power to examine all of the areas that determine quality of life, including access to education and health care, firmly in the hands of the communities.
For example, [In]Sight tells us that across Australia’s 55 Regional Development Australia (RDA) regions, the top performing areas for access to hospital services include Brisbane at number one, Melbourne at number two and Adelaide at number five.
But, perhaps somewhat unexpectedly, the Grampians come in at number 3, Loddon Mallee at nine and Far North Queensland and the Torres Strait at number 10.
It also reveals that the Adelaide Hills and Mackay Isaac Whitsunday regions rank number one and four in terms of early childhood performance; with low levels of children considered to be developmentally vulnerable. And, in terms of human capital, the Sunshine Coast, the Limestone Coast and Hunter region rank in the top ten for the level of English proficiency in their populations, performing strongly right alongside metropolitan centres.
Already from [In]Sight, we have learned that reducing the disparities in human capital, access to new technologies and investment in research and development across Australia’s regions will be critical to national economic growth.
For those planning or starting young families, [In]Sight can unlock the full picture how child-friendly a region’s infrastructure and service provision is. For people in business, it will provide an accurate picture of the market size, workforce participation and the economic fundamentals of a region as well as what local government assistance for business exists.
The social applications for the RAI’s research are endless.
In rural and remote areas of Australia where isolation can be a major challenge, [In]Sight can profile a community’s access to broadband, the youth unemployment rate and access to education and GP services – it can set the frame within which an area lobbies for improvements or promotes its strengths.
If you’re curious about how your region stacks up, or want to test your own instincts about what helps to make a community thrive, jump on [In]Sight via http://insight.regionalaustralia.org.au/