Skip to main content

Intergovernmental Shared Inquiry Program


The Intergovernmental Shared Inquiry Program is a research partnership between the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) and the Commonwealth, state and territory governments.

The program delivers an annual research agenda focussing on topics of strategic importance to regional Australia. Policy workshops are held throughout the year to discuss findings and policy implications.

2024 Shared Inquiry

The following projects will be completed in 2024:


Circular Economy in Action

This project is examining the growth of the circular economy in regional Australia. It is investigating the benefits, opportunities, challenges and drivers facing communities and considering the ways that government, business, universities and local communities are working together to strengthen the circular economy in their regions.


Future Ready Regions

Building on our 2023 examination of small communities transitioning to net zero economies, the Future Ready Regions project aims to increase our understanding of the factors that support mid-sized regional Australian communities to embrace and implement the transition to net-zero economies, and to identify the policy levers available to government to effectively facilitate these transitions.

2023 Shared Inquiry

The following projects will be completed in 2023:

Against The Odds – Realising Regional Australia’s Workforce Potential

This project focused on regional labour markets and the actions local communities are taking to address workforce shortages. The research showed that regional labour market systems are demonstrating high levels of innovation, collaboration and creative approaches to resource management. 

The research highlights six demographic groups that experience barriers to workforce participation: young people; people over 55; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; migrants; people with disability; and people with dependent children. It explores how these groups could be supported through flexible, inclusive and sustainable policy initiatives to realise the potential of regional labour markets. 

Net Zero Transition Pathways for Regional Australia

This suite of three research reports examines transition pathways to net zero for smaller Australian regional communities. The RAI shares a methodology for identifying communities with a high level of fossil fuel dependence outside major industry hubs and offers potential solutions to support their successful economic, social and environmental transition to net zero economies. We then examine lessons from the international context and share local success stories to illustrate the key factors enabling successful transitions.

2021-2022 Shared Inquiry

Regional Housing

This research examines regional housing dynamics, suggesting to policymakers, industry and regional leaders that place-based initiatives rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach should be taken to address housing issues being felt by many regions. Regional housing markets are troubled by limited new housing supply.  as a result of inadequacies in the planning system, variable and small-scale demand over time, long supply chains and the absence of economies of scale. The result is that regional housing is often unaffordable, particularly for low-income earners. The challenges in regional housing are potentially an impediment to the region’s economic growth.

Regional Productivity and Innovation

National productivity growth in Australia has been slow in recent years. While this is in line with many other advanced economies, it raises questions about Australia’s economic growth. Australia is also experiencing a lower rate of innovation and technological adoption, business investment and education attainment, largely due to changing population dynamics and restructuring of the economy.

Regional Australia has a critical role to play, as it is both the origins of some drag on productivity growth and the source of the required high rates of growth. This report examines the nation’s productivity growth where economic policies can leverage the sectors where regional Australia is leading in productivity, while addressing the sectors being held back.

2020 Shared Inquiry

Disaster Recovery and Resilience

2020 was a year of devastating bushfires, unprecedented floods and a worldwide pandemic. This research focused on developing tools to help regional communities and businesses owners recover from disaster and strengthen their resilience. While the causes of the disaster may differ, this report highlights that there are some overlapping elements to the way these shocks are managed and recovered from in regional Australia. The report centred on business experiences, identifying the most effective local, state and federal support to build resilience, reduce exposure and aid recovery. 

2019 Shared Inquiry

Regional Jobs

Research looked at how different regional communities adapt and change to manage their workforce challenges. The work analysed employment prospects in regional Australia for tourism and health. Some areas of focus included the impact of technological development on the size of regional workforces and the skills needed to meet the workforce demands; improving pathways to work for school leavers; analysis of the labour market to understand participation rates and employment culture in different regions; a review of expectations of regional job creation through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and an investigation of healthcare and social assistance as the biggest source of demand for jobs for regions in the future.

Mid-Size Towns

Mid-sized towns are classified as those with between 5,000 and 50,000 residents. This research examined the economic importance and future growth trajectories of mid-sized Australian towns. The research categorises the different types of mid-sized towns in regional Australia by population size, industry and location, and examines potential pathways to economic growth. The research dives into the concept of liveability as a key factor in attracting and retaining population and emphasises the importance of schools, health services and community infrastructure to liveability.

2018 Shared Inquiry

Regions in Transition

This research focused on managing the transition of regional towns and local economies vulnerable to major industry closures or downsizing. The research offered evidence-based policy options for government because economic transitions are experienced differently from one place to another.

The Regional Australian Institute gratefully acknowledges our 2023-24  funding partners: the Australian Government through the Department of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Communications and the Arts; the Victorian Government Department of Jobs, Skills, Industry and Regions; the South Australian Government Department of Primary Industries and Regions; the Western Australian Government Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development; and the Queensland Government Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water.