What does the future hold for Regional Australia?
Why doing business in regional Australia makes dollars as well as sense.
We all have an idea of what constitutes a regional area, but could you define it if you were asked? According to the Australian Government, “most locations of Australia outside major cities (Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane) are classed as designated regional areas.” That covers a heck of a lot of the country! But how well do you understand regional Australia and what goes on there?
In this article, we’ll find out what limitations might currently be holding regional Australia back and look at the advantages that are wholly outweighing these surmountable obstacles.
Perceived limitations in regional Australia
While some people consider life in regional Australia to be sub-par to city living, the vast majority of their reasons are based on misconceptions. And these are usually born from hearsay, inexperience or plain ignorance of the facts.
Employment in regional Australia
If you believed the negative press, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there’s ‘nothing to do’ in a regional town. You’d probably also think that people are leaving in droves for the cities to find employment and create stability for their futures. The statistics, however, definitely do not support this notion. The Office of the Prime Minister of Australia tells us that “many of our smaller cities and regional areas are crying out for more people. Some regional areas simply cannot fill the jobs available.”
In 2019, the Australian Government estimated that there were “47,000 job vacancies in regional Australia.” In September of 2020, this ABC News blog reported that “in some regions there are actually more job vacancies posted now than there were before the COVID-19 economic slowdown.” And more recently, in an article from December 2020, ABC News reports that although the cities are slower to recover from the economic ramifications of the Coronavirus pandemic, “a record 54,000 new job vacancy advertisements in regional Australia has the bush eyeing off a long-awaited economic and population turnaround.” In light of these figures, it seems there are plenty of opportunities for those hoping to move into regional locations.
Infrastructure and services in regional Australia
The most significant limitation to the future of regional Australia is the current inadequacy of the infrastructure and services necessary in some locations to cater to more activity.
Luckily, the Government is also keenly aware of this fact and has committed to “working more closely with state and territory governments to match infrastructure with local population need…so that our country can support a more evenly distributed population.”
The internet in regional Australia
The other divide between cities and regional areas is in the technological arena. With so much of our lives now being conducted online, access to reliable internet is the next most obvious hurdle. In the nbn Flexible Lifestyle Survey carried out by YouGov and commissioned by nbn, “35% of Australians surveyed are considering relocating to their ideal community after COVID-19.”
As rolling lockdowns showed, working from home could be both possible and preferable. And for many, it was a catalyst for rethinking their lifestyles. “Of those looking to relocate,” says Gavin Williams, Chief Development Officer, Regional & Remote at NBN Co, “half (54%) say they want to move to a regional area.”
While just about all but the most remote locations in Australia have some capacity to access the internet, the speeds with which our services operate can still vary from place to place. Once again, this current limitation has not gone unnoticed by the Australian Government. As a result, both long- and short-term funding has been provided for its rectification. The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (DITRDC) has reported that “more than 75% of homes and businesses outside major urban areas can order NBN services or have network construction underway.”
In support of this commitment, in September of 2020 nbn stated that “The Company will increase its focus on regional areas through targeted investments in fixed wireless and satellite networks, an expansion of fixed-line networks in regional areas, and the deepening of community engagement.” An assurance that can only benefit the people and businesses of regional Australia.
Why is regional Australia so important?
Australia’s regions are not just great places to live and work. They are fundamental to our cities and the nation as a whole. In its Regions 2030—Unlocking Opportunity publication, the DITRDC explains that “Regions supply much of the necessities of everyday life—from the food we eat to the energy that runs our households and industries. Without the driving force of regional Australia, the strength and vitality of our national economy and the Australian way of life would not be possible.”
Although the news reports throughout 2020 would have us believe that the Australian export market was in tatters, according to Trading Economics, “Exports of goods and services from Australia rose by 3 percent month-over-month to a nine-month high of AUD 37.27 billion in December 2020, as foreign demand improved in the wake of coronavirus disruptions.”
Updating their data in mid-December 2020 (after the worst of the Covid-19 economic shutdowns), the DITRDC have further analysed the export figures and show that “Around two-thirds of Australia’s export earnings come from regional industries such as agriculture, tourism, retail, services and manufacturing.”
Further illustrating this notion, the National Rural Health Alliance found, in its study of the Economic Contribution of Regional, Rural and Remote Australia, that “Approximately 67% of the value of Australia’s exports comes from regional, rural and remote areas.”
Advantages of living in regional areas
As we’ve seen, the Government is committed to the continual improvement of regional Australia. These improvements not only ease the population pressures in the bigger cities but “ensures regional communities are given a much needed boost.”
In addition to increased federal funding and initiatives, the benefits of living in regional areas include:
- Lower cost of living
- More affordable housing
- Supportive communities
- Easy access to nature-based and eco-tourism activities
- Less pollution
- Lower food-miles
- Less traffic congestion
Advantages of doing business in regional areas
As well as the lifestyle factors listed above, doing business in regional Australia provides some extra rewards. That tight-knit community you become a part of isn’t only concerned for you and your family; they are equally invested in your business’s success. Some of the many advantages of doing business in regional Australia include:
- Supportive local community and council/chambers of commerce
- Less competition for customers and resources
- Lower overheads
- Increased funding opportunities
- Provide value directly to your community
- Support the local economy
- Help grow your region
Also, many regional areas are transportation and logistics hubs and are on major routes to and from cities due to their importance to the agricultural sector.
With these lifestyle and livelihood benefits, it’s no wonder so many people are making a Country Change to live and work in regional Australia.
Dedicated to helping regional business
The personal experiences of our founder and all of the regional staff who’ve contributed to Blue Clay Marketing and Video Creatives over the last decade, have strengthened our commitment to serving businesses throughout regional Australia.
Overcoming the same limitations and enjoying the same rewards as our clients have given us insights that many city-based marketers might not understand. As a result, we dedicate ourselves to helping regional businesses create content and marketing strategies which engage specifically with their target audience; an audience we intuitively understand. This awareness and passion has also led us to launch other initiatives such as HOLGRO, which aims to help empower regional business leaders.
As Local Government Focus found when examining the Top 5 issues facing regional Australia, “Skillsets for the future include a greater focus on people, solving strategic problems and thinking creatively.”