Interview with: Liz Ritchie, CEO of the Regional Australia Institute

Headshot of woman in front of trees

As the CEO of RAI, Liz’s primary goal is to make a difference through leadership, engagement and evidence-based knowledge to shape a better Australia. Heralding from country NSW, she understands the issues and opportunities impacting regional Australia, and she is dedicated to reforming our regional economies so that more Australia’s can choose to live, work, and invest in regional Australia.

What is the concept behind developing Regional Australia Council 2031 (RAC 2031)?

Our engagement with various stakeholders, including government and community groups, concluded there was a gap when engaging corporate Australia on regional issues.

The Council gives corporates a vehicle to support the development, investment and prosperity of our regions in a collaborative way. To see more Australians live, work and invest in the regions corporate Australia needs to be a partner in this shift.

How were the current members selected to be a part of the council?

Over the last year, we approached many corporates with a pitch to be part of the Council – and indeed we are still in conversations with many more. The current members (12) have stepped up to the plate and agreed regional Australia should be a national priority.

We are aiming to have 25-member organisations by the end of 2020. The current members include:

  • Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA);
  • Aurizon;
  • Bendigo and Adelaide Bank;
  • Commonwealth Bank;
  • Expedia Group;
  • KPMG;
  • NBN Co;
  • Prime Super;
  • Telstra and
  • TransGrid.

Since launching the council two more corporates have agreed to join RAC 2031, an announcement on this will be made at our next meeting in July.

How will regional capitals benefit from the Regional Australia Council 2031? 

One of the key benefits to regional capitals will be the Council’s push for better population strategies. We know our your members are growing and could accommodate and thrive with even larger populations. These cities will be part of the solution to ease pressure on our megacities of the future.

Regional capitals will also be asked to play an important part in our National Awareness Campaign to be launched later this year. The campaign will promote the opportunities of living, working and investing in regions.

We are also issuing a RAC 2031 Communiqué after each meeting, this will be distributed to our network. We invite regional representatives to provide feedback as we progress our agenda.

How can our members engage with the Regional Australia Council 2031?

We love hearing from regional communities around Australia – they are the reason the RAI exists!

We have a survey series called The Gauge and the second survey in this series will be released soon, so I encourage everyone to take part.  A large sample of responses helps us see what is going on in the regions, these results feed into our research, as well as discussions and decisions with RAC 2031.

The RAI will resume its events series Regions Rising as COVID-19 restrictions. The flagship event for this series is our National Summit to be hosted in Canberra on 19-20 October 2020.  This event also helps us gain feedback on what is happening in the regions, so remember to register!

What are the objectives of the Regional Australia Council 2031?

The Council has a four-pillar focus – jobs; population; liveability; and people and leadership. These pillars have been chosen based on 8 years of research conducted by the RAI.

The first meeting of RCA 2031 saw members reach consensus on a number of key items including having the corporate members act to make regional Australia a priority and be positive examples of how this can work.

The outcome of this will be an RAI survey of the employees of the RCA 2031 council to see what interest there is to move to a regional area. This survey will ask the key question; “what it will take to make the move?”

The first meeting also saw members agree that the population strategy has a critical role to play in the future of regional Australia, especially to fill job vacancies and address the skills storage in many regional communities.

The Council will also work with the RAI to activate our research relating to liveability – to help regional towns and cities become more attractive to movers. This will assist with retention and attractions strategies aimed at increasing the growth and prosperity of our regions.

Learn more about the RAC 2031 here