Regional Australia can increase its contribution to national innovation and growth and provide improved quality of life for its 8.8 million residents. But we must stop seeing our regions as victims of change and we must stop misunderstanding this part of our economy.

Regional success is built on a balance of local ingenuity and proactivity, and informed, consultative state and federal leadership. We need to lift expectations; about what our economy can do what government can do and what regional people can and are already doing. It’s time for a period of change on our own terms.

Read CEO Jack Archer’s speech on a new economic agenda for regional Australia.

2017 Policy Priorities

Details of projects to come in 2017 are coming soon.

  • For far too long we have steadfastly focussed on responding to failure in regional policy and we’ve actively talked down the prospects of regional success.

    To turn that around, a focus on identifying and supporting high growth small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in regions is needed.

    This small percentage of businesses creates half the new jobs in our economy and are the successful innovators in our regions.

    In 2016 the RAI will outline how support for high growth SMEs can be a key part of the national innovation and growth agendas.

    Check out our Regional Accelerator and Regional Online Heroes initiatives to see how the RAI is working to identify great examples of these business and ways to help them grow.

  • Australia already has great big cities, but it also has the opportunity to build even greater small cities. At the Regional Australia Institute, we see three key areas of focus to harness this opportunity

    1. We must incentivise collaboration between all levels of government and local institutions to guide smart development.

    2. We must offer competitive funding to support the development of globally connected innovation districts in our regional cities.

    3. We must focus on future planning to foster strong CBD economies, which will produce dynamic, liveable and productive small cities.

    In early 2016, we will release a paper defining the regional city opportunity and a policy approach that could help us grab it.

    Check out the Great Small Cities agenda page for more about this opportunity.

  • Regions, like our economy as a whole, need investment and partnerships with international markets.

    One of the biggest risks to growth in many regions is that we don’t grasp this opportunity and we’re driven to make poor decisions by those who seek to create fear around this issue.

    A dedicated international investment and engagement program focussed on regionally led effort coupled with the better trade arrangements coming through the Free Trade Agreements, with Japan, Korea and China can deliver new growth opportunities in many regions.

    Better approaches to international migration could also provide the population growth and diversity that many regions need to reach their potential.

    In 2016 the RAI will release analysis showing how we can drive stronger engagement with the world.

    Check out the results from the Pathfinder Namoi project to understand how stronger engagement with the world could help that region secure $900m in additional growth and outperform the national economy.

  • Regional Australia traditionally fares poorly in access to quality services.

    The real-life result is lower educational achievement, lower incomes, higher rates of unemployment in some regions, proportionately less innovation, poorer health and lower levels of overall wellbeing.

    Australia’s predominantly centralised system of government concentrates both power and public sector finances in metropolitan centres.

    We consistently take the most important decisions affecting regions, both geographically and politically, out of local hands, cutting off the opportunity for local input and local innovation.

    We can do two things to change this.

    Firstly, on the back of the National Broadband Network, we should accelerate rollout of online services so that small communities can have better service access. This will challenge established structures, particularly in health services but it must be done.

    The second thing we can do to encourage local leadership is to create the opportunity for local people to develop solutions to their own problems.

    Applying some of the approaches taken to innovation in government to small isolated communities could fundamentally change things.

    In 2016 the RAI will outline how we can move from a situation where services are imposed on them to one where local people have the opportunity to create something better.

    Read the RAI policy discussion papers Change on Our Terms and Better Government for Regional Australia

  • Submission, September 2017: Submission to the Select Committee on Regional Development and Decentralisation

    Submission: Inquiry into the Australian Government’s Role in the development of cities: Response to the sub-enquiry into ‘Sustainability transitions in existing cities’: Developed in partnership with SAP, the submission highlights the clear role Smart technology can have in enabling our cities to become more sustainable through digital governance – at all city sizes. We identify the integral role that collaborative decision making can have in the form of digital governance and provide some examples from Australia and USA on how this could be implemented.

    Discussion paper – The future of regional Australia: change on our terms

    Discussion paper – Delivering better government for the regions

    Senate inquiry submission – Australia’s hidden metropolis: The future role and contribution of regional capitals to Australia

    Commission of audit submission – Optimising regional investment

    Northern Development white paper submission – The future of Northern Australia

    Policy briefing – RDA Reform

    PC inquiry submission – Regional infrastructure

    PC inquiry submission – Labour mobility

    Policy briefing – Reducing Australia’s local infrastructure deficit

    PC inquiry submission – Natural disaster recovery

    Policy briefing – Australia’s regions and the Asian century

    Policy briefing – Regional communities and the mining boom

    Policy briefing – Tapping regional growth

    Productivity Commission’s Inquiry Submission –Telecommunications Universal Service Obligation

    Inquiry into the operation, effectiveness, and consequences of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability (Location of Corporate Commonwealth Entities) Order 2016 Submission

    Senate Inquiry into the impact of Defence training activities and facilities on rural and regional communities Submission

    Transitioning Regional Economies: Submission to the Productivity Commission study on the transition of regional economies following the resources boom