Social Innovation for Liveable Regional Cities
How participation, entrepreneurship and place-making can make regional cities more attractive to millennials.
• Written by Bronwyn Voyce
Regional Australia makes a formidable contribution to the nation’s economy, (one-third of our national output) and almost 9 million Australians call the towns, small cities and areas that lie beyond our major capital cities, home.
As the bright city lights of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra draw in young talent; regional cities and rural surrounds are faced with the challenging task of retaining and attracting churning millennials to balance the growth in ageing populations.
The question begs, how do regional cities retain, attract and bring back millennials to live, study, work or start new businesses; in order to keep regional cities productive? Undeniably, the private sector is a major contributor to and driver of economic opportunity, however research shows that millennials are looking for more than a ‘job’ in their search for a place to call home.
Whilst access to jobs, affordable housing, universities, schools etc. are important, these alone will not capture the hearts and minds of an innovative, socially connected, experience seeking generation. Start-up hubs, eco-city visions, live music, bike lanes, pop-up shops, main street revitalisation and urban regeneration are just some of the ways city leaders can make cities more liveable and thus appealing to millennials.
A regional city’s capacity however, to be an immersive hub with a unique sense of place and array of platforms to connect and collaborate, could be constrained by a lack of vision and foresight more-so than by limited budgets. The task of making cities liveable cannot solely rest with local government, it must be a partnership between the private sector, not-for-profit organisations and the community.
In 2011, 66,300 young people (aged 15 to 34) lived in Cairns (SA4 region). Fast forward to 2016 and that number is down to 48,700 – almost 30 per cent less.
In early 2015, social enterprise yRepublic was established by a group of passionate millennials to address the dwindling population of young adults. yRepublic’s vision was to lead innovative, creative and effective projects that empower millennials to connect, collaborate and actively participate in society, in order to build vibrancy in their communities.
Passion alone cannot achieve results and yRepublic’s progress will be examined to ascertain critical determinants of success for grass-roots social innovation initiatives that seek to address liveability in regional cities through civic participation, entrepreneurship and place-making.
yRepublic is just one of the many initiatives uncovered as part of the Make the Move campaign to highlight examples of locally-led innovation in regional Australia. Is your community taking a unique approach to promoting its best attributes or addressing a local issue? Contact us and share your story.