The Regional Australia Institute (RAI) has unveiled its bold ambition to ‘rebalance the nation’ at the Regions Rising Event in Bunbury today - and what it means for regional Western Australia (WA).
At the core of the national Regionalisation Ambition is a target of 11 million people living prosperously in our regions by 2032 – for WA, this would mean an additional 31,000 people above today’s projections.
RAI CEO Liz Ritchie says people are already voting with their feet in WA and choosing a life in the regions, with the latest Regional Movers Index showing significant growth in migration in York, Busselton, Donnybrook-Ballingup, Albany, Chittering, Denmark, Exmouth and Dardanup LGA’s.
“While our population is growing in many parts of regional Australia, we know employers are still struggling to recruit. WA’s regional December job vacancies (5,698) were up 2.5% year-on-year, but 84% higher than December five years ago and more than 30% higher than what they were during the mining boom 10 years ago,” Liz Ritchie says.
“More than 89% of the regional population in WA live in a ‘childcare desert’; and home building approvals in regional WA have declined in seven of the last ten years.
“We know we cannot solve the jobs crisis without addressing housing; the skills deficit without improving education standards; healthcare can’t be improved without focussing on digital connectivity. All these issues are interlinked, complex and equally important,” Ms Ritchie said.
“Whilst Western Australia is tracking in line with the national proportion of young people living in regional Australia, it has a bit more work to do in increasing migrant settlement.”
The Ambition sets out 20 targets under a Framework of five key pillars – Jobs and Skills; Liveability; Population; Productivity and Innovation; Sustainability and Resilience. This plan looks at the relationships and inter-dependencies between different issues and stakeholder groups.
Regional WA-specific targets include;
- Doubling the number of migrants settling in regional WA to 24%
- Reducing the recruitment difficulty rate in regional WA to below 40% (71% in 2022)
- Boosting post-school qualification completion in Regional WA to 65% or above (59% in 2022)
- Increasing regional WA’s Digital Inclusion Index score to 73 or above (currently 66, with 92% of regional WA LGAs falling below the state average of 72)
- Lifting access to medical practitioners in regional WA by over 100 FTE per 100,000 – currently, there are 277 full-time equivalent medical practitioners per 100,000 people, compared to regional Australia nationally at 328 full-time equivalent medical practitioners.
“The unique plan is a collaborative, bi-partisan model setting a path for regional Australia over the next ten years, inclusive of all levels of government, industry, business, not for profit sectors and
“It has been co-developed by regional voices across the entire ecosystem – including with our members, representing RDAs and leading Australian organisations and hundreds of other regional businesses, councils and individuals who volunteered their insights and expertise.
“Through the lens of each of the pillars in the Ambition, we have an aspirational vision to rebalance the nation. This requires collective action, and organisations can get involved by pledging their support. Each pledge is a future commitment and a tangible step towards achieving one of the targets in the framework.
“In just a few months, more than 50 pledges have been received from some of Australia’s largest companies such as NBN, Telstra, Woolworths and Elders, as well as the City of Bunbury, and HHG Legal. In WA.
For more detail on WA’s Regionalisation Ambition 2032 targets click here.
For the RAI’s National Regionalisation Ambition 2032 click here.