Small town change

small-town-challengeIn 1911 if you lived in regional Australia it was most likely in a town of between 200 and 500 people. By 2006 this was the least likely place for regional Australians to call home.

Urbanisation and technology change have steadily reduced the need for a network of small regional towns. But small towns are the heart of regional Australia and people in small towns are creating a diverse set of futures for their communities.

The Regional Australia Institute (RAI) will help small regional towns identify the ways in which they can take control of their future through development strategies that work.

We will also identify how technology and local innovation can help to improve the availability and quality of government services in small communities.

Small Town Change

Building prosperous small towns

Small regional towns are often great places to live but their economic future is challenged by a variety of forces. Australia needs to actively engage with the future of small communities.

We must be both realistic and honest about the challenges that many places face. We must also back all of our communities to be innovative, proactive and ambitious in meeting that future. Volunteering, community skills and leadership can transform small places.

For previous theme related publications, visit our Library.

Work in 2017 

The RAI will bring a practical focus to the discussion about the future of small regional towns in 2017. Our work is identifying the changes in the level of public sector service provision in our smaller communities over the long term (1981 to 2017) and the outcomes of these changes in key areas like education, health, public safety and community welfare.

We will analyse quantitative data trends, qualitative case studies and evaluate previous policies and programs. This work helps address the risks of decline for some communities and clarify future pathways.

The research will be used as the evidence base to inform a new policy agenda for service delivery in small communities.


Share your story

What is your town doing to adapt to future challenges? Share your story and contribute to our research agenda.

Learn more about small town change and opportunity

See our CEO Jack Archer’s take on small town change on ABC’s Landline program with Tony Eastley.

Understand recent patters of population mobility in regional Australia and how Regional Returners and Super Boomers will shape our future communities.

Understand the competitive advantages and challenges of small places by browsing profiles on the [In]Sight online tool and companion theme analysis papers.

Essential Reading and Viewing

Check out the ABC program Back Roads for inspirational stories of small towns in regions

Understand the Evolution of Australian Towns from 1911 to 2011.