Not drowning, waving: regional populations on the rise

Regional Australia attracted more people than it lost in the five years to 2016, contrary to popular perceptions that rural populations are declining, a new Regional Australia Institute report says.

The report, The Big Movers: Understanding Population Mobility in Regional Australia said 65,200 people moved to the country based on 2011 and 2016 Census data.

Millennials (those aged between 20 and 35) were prominent in the overall regional inflow, with one in three indicating they were returning after having earlier moved to the five capital city areas and Canberra.

Between 2011-16, 1.2 million people either moved to or around the regions.

The top destinations by LGA were Murray River, Uralla, Port Stephens, Yass Valley, and Maitland (NSW); Latrobe, West Tamar, and Kentish (Tasmania); Golden Plains, Mitchell, and Surf Coast (Vic); Isaac, Noosa, and Livingstone (Qld); Ashburton, East Pilbara, and Chittering (WA); and Yankalilla, Victor Harbour, and Light (SA).

The report says growing settlement connectivity, fly-in fly-out work, housing affordability, lifestyle considerations, and perceptions of career advancement are helping fuel the flow of millennials between cities and regions.

This, it notes, “supports a more nuanced approach to understanding the way that people of all ages, including millennials, move between metropolitan and regional areas in Australia”.