RCA attended the Regional Australia Institute’s National Summit in Canberra from 13-14 September 2023, with Chair Cr Kylie King a leading presenter at the conference, sharing the opening panel session to discuss progress on the Regionalisation Ambition 2023.
The first progress report into the Regionalisation Ambition was released, indicating that housing and workforce shortages are continuing to hamper regional growth.
The regional rental vacancy rate has increased from 1% to 1.5% which is higher than capital cities, while monthly building approvals have declined.
Recruitment difficulty in the regions currently stands at 69%, up from 64% just one year ago which confirms anecdotal evidence across all regions that it is increasingly difficult to recruit staff and find suitable accommodation.
There was however positive progress on a number of measures including education, population, digital inclusion, education and employment:
- The regional population has increased from 9.5 million (2021) to 9.6 million (2022);
- The Australia Digital Inclusion Index (ADII) score in regions has increased from 67.4 (2021) to 69.8 (2022);
- The attainment rate for regional students has increased from 69.6% (2020) to 71.4% (2021);
- Post school qualification completion rate for regional Australians has increased to 58.4%;
- Life satisfaction and wellbeing in regions has improved to a score of 73;
- The number of childcare services in regions has increased by 5.2%;
- Across all domains (except Yr 7 spelling), NAPLAN results have improved for very remote students;
- The proportion of overseas arrivals in regions has increased slightly to 18.5% (up from 17.4%);
- Regional workforce participation increased to 63.9% (but still lower than capitals); and
- Over half of employment in renewable energy generation was based in regions, growing by more than 60% since 2016.
Over two days, the Summit heard from leaders across Australia to discuss how to ‘shift our gaze’ and make further progress on the measures in the Regionalisation Ambition.
Image: Regional Capitals Australia