Institutional foundations across regional Australia are highly variable. Many regional areas perform well across a number of measures of community capability with high levels of leadership capacity, public sector employment and particularly high levels of volunteering.
Less populous and more remote Heartlands Regions have the highest levels of volunteering and leadership capacity, but they are constrained by limited presence of major organisations and lower local economic development support per capita. Regional Cities in contrast have institutional strength in major organisations but have the lowest levels of volunteering and local government discretionary expenditure
In general Connected Lifestyle Regions, which exist close to major cities are competitive across most indicators of the Institutional Foundations theme. Industry and Service Hubs on the other hand are largely uncompetitive across most indicators, with the lowest levels of leadership capacity and public sector workforce.
Our greatest competitive challenge – engaging different institutional strengths in developing regions
Utilising institutional foundations in regional Australia to develop effective institutions requires approaches that work with the strengths in each regional type. What works in Regional Cities, for example, may not be successful in Heartland Regionals where the institutional foundations rely on volunteering and the energy of local leaders. These differences have profound implications for policy design and delivery and the assumptions made about the capacity of regions to lead their own development or participate and shape service delivery to meet local needs.