RAI hosts Liveability Forum
As a population, we are a very mobile group. We change addresses more often than about 80 per cent of the populations of other developed nations.
In 2015, around 15 percent of Australians changed their address, which was almost double the comparable world average of 7.9 per cent. Globally, around 21 per cent of people move every five years, but in Australia, this rate is 39 per cent.
Where we choose to live is a decision based on many factors, but we know the liveability of a town or city is important. However, defining liveability and what it means isn’t as clear cut.
As part of the RAI’s Intergovernmental Shared Inquiry 2019, this issue has been key to the work researchers have focussed on within the Mid-Sized Towns project.
Late last month, RAI hosted the inaugural Liveability Forum at the Regional Australia Hub. RAI lead researcher, Dr Kylie Bourne said the event was designed to start a conversation about regional liveability and connect policy makers, practitioners, and researchers that are passionate about making regions great places to live and work.
“Understanding the role that liveability plays in directing people’s decisions to move to, stay in or move from a regional town can help communities more keenly target policy and program efforts to attract and retain residents,” Dr Bourne said.
The forum was attended by representatives from academia, the medical and legal professions, culture and arts sectors, the agricultural industry and people working directly with regional Australian communities to build vibrant, liveable places.
RAI lead researcher Dr Angela Lehmann also addressed the group, discussing the central relationship between liveability and the health care and social assistance workforce.
”All projections are showing that the workforce of the future is going to be more highly skilled – this puts towns and regions in competition with each other as we all vie for the same workforce. Building liveable communities is going to become essential for regional Australia to attract the workers it needs to thrive.”
Megan Cahill, Chair of the Rural Workforce Agency Network, spoke about the long standing work the medical profession has been doing into attracting people to a life and career in the country. She spoke about the importance of jobs for spouses, schools for children and the positive outcomes the sector has found from short introductory ‘Go Rural’ experiences for medical students.
Professor Rob Tanton from the University of Canberra spoke about the essential role that liveability plays in places that may experience economic volatility and the role that life stages plays in defining what is important in a community.
Key points raised from the discussion included:
- Building belonging for newcomers in a regional place requires an active approach such as building a social bridge for newcomers via arts, culture and sport.
- The meaning of liveability means different things to different people in different places. The overarching meaning is that liveable communities include active participation and a sense of belonging.
- The notion of retaining population indefinitely should be challenged. Most people move throughout their lives and a change of emphasis to attracting and extending population could be helpful.
- There is work that needs to be done to prevent the stigma associated with spending time in regional Australia or staying on in the regions. In other words, we need to shift the narrative.
The forum concluded with a recognition that this topic will continue to grow in importance in regional Australia, with particular reference to the importance of liveability in post-disaster recovery.
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