“1 in 5 Australians are considering a move to the regions. They are motivated by spiralling cost of living pressures, growing congestion, and a desire for more time, more space, more connection with community.”
In a compelling address at the National Press Club, Liz Ritchie, CEO of the Regional Australia Institute, outlined her vision for empowering Regional Australia and achieving sustainable growth. With a focus on job opportunities, housing, education, and infrastructure, Ritchie highlighted the need for a national population plan and comprehensive strategies to address regional challenges.
The Rise of Regional Living
Contrary to popular belief, the demand for regional living existed before the pandemic, driven by cost-of-living pressures and a desire for community connection. Approximately one in five Australians are considering a move to the regions, presenting an opportunity for significant population growth.
The Importance of a National Population Plan
To effectively address regional growth, Ritchie emphasized the necessity of a national population plan. This plan would strategically align job opportunities, infrastructure development, and social services, ensuring balanced and sustainable regional development.
Challenges and Opportunities
Ritchie acknowledged challenges such as job vacancies, housing affordability, and education gaps in regional areas. However, she also highlighted the potential for productivity growth and economic benefits in regional cities. By targeting skill shortages, investing in education and training, and providing tailored incentives, regional areas can thrive.
Soft Infrastructure and Decentralization
Ritchie emphasized the significance of soft infrastructure, including healthcare, childcare, and community services, in enhancing regional livability. She also acknowledged the complexities of decentralization but emphasized its potential for regional growth and economic rebalancing.