Regional Australia

  • 34% of Australians live outside greater capital city areas and 30% live outside major cities.
  • Despite common misconceptions, the population of regional Australia is rising. Between 2007 and 2012, the population outside of Australia's major cities grew by 6.6%. The Australian Bureau of Statistics projects that the population outside capital cities will grow by 26% between 2007 and 2026.
  • Regional economies are based on a diversity of industry sectors, with the majority of employment concentrated in the services, health, education and infrastructure sectors.
  • Regional Australia is the major source of Australia’s export earnings accounting for 67% of the value of Australia’s exports.
  • Regional Australia plays a critical role in the Australian tourism industry, which makes a direct contribution to Australia’s GDP of $35 billion annually.  Around 45% of tourism expenditure occurs in areas outside of Australia's capital cities.
  • Regional Australia holds the keys to a sustainable future for Australia. It is where solutions can be found to key national and global challenges such as: food security; biodiversity; climate change; water solutions; preservation of Indigenous cultures and Indigenous economic development; and, social inclusion.

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Fact or research finding Reference
Population and economy
As at June 2012, 34% of Australia’s population (7.7 million people) resided outside greater capital city areas and 30% lived outside major cities.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) (2013) Population by age and sex, regions of Australia, 2012.  Cat. no. 3235.0

 

ABS (2013) Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2012 cat. No 3218.0

Despite common misconceptions, the population in regional Australia is rising. Between 2007 and 2012, the population outside of Australia's major cities grew by 6.6%.

 

It is projected that the Australian population will grow by 30% between 2007 and 2026, with 32% growth in capital cities and 26% growth outside capital cities.

ABS (2013) Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2012 cat. No 3218.0

 

ABS (2008) Population Projections, Australia, 2006 to 2101 cat. No 3222.0 (Based on Series B projections)

Average annual regional population growth over the five years 2005-10 was highest in satellite cities (within 150km of a capital city) and coastal cities, with slower rates of growth in inland cities and other rural and regional areas. Daley, J. and Lancy, A., 2011, Investing in regions: Making a difference, Grattan Institute, Melbourne.
Regional economies are based on a diversity of industry sectors, with the majority of employment concentrated in the services, health, education, and infrastructure sectors. Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (2008) About Australia’s Regions Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government
Regional Australia is the major source of Australia’s export earnings accounting for 67% of our national earnings. Regional Australia Institute analysis based on ABS data for 2011

Regional Australia also plays a critical role in the Australian tourism industry, which makes a direct contribution to Australia’s GDP of $35 billion per year. Around 45% of tourism expenditure occurs in areas outside of Australia's capital cities.

 

In 2012-13, it is estimated that 21% of international adult visitor overnight stays and 64% of domestic overnight stays took place in regional areas.

Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism - Tourism Research Australia (TRA) (2012) Tourism industry facts and figures at a glance September 2012

 

TRA (2013) Regional forecasts - tables June 2013  

Higher education attainment and aspiration

There is a significant differential in higher education attainment between city and regional Australians, with the differential increasing with distance from a major city. In 2011, 31% of people aged 25-64 who lived in major cities held a Bachelor degree or above. This figure declined to 18% for Australians living in inner regional areas, to 15% for outer regional areas and down to only 12% for very remote areas.

 

The proportion of people with Bachelor degrees or above grew strongly across Australia between 2006 and 2011 (the two most recent census periods).  However, the rate of growth was slightly higher in regional and remote areas compared with the major cities.  The rate of growth increased by 17% in major cities and outer regional areas, by 18% in inner regional areas, and by 20-21% in remote and very remote areas, albeit off a low base.

ABS 2011 Census community profiles (internal analysis); and

 

 

ABS (2008) Australian Social Trends, 2008 cat. No 4102.0

Parents in less geographically accessible regions have relatively low expectations for their children’s future education levels, when compared to parents in major cities. Australian Institute of Family Studies (2011) Families in regional, rural and remote Australia, Fact Sheet 2011.
Young people in regional Australia continue to be less likely to aspire to a higher education. While 63% of young people in metropolitan areas intend to enrol in higher education, only 39% in provincial areas and 32% in remote areas intend to do so. Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) (2010) Australian Regional Higher Education: Student Characteristics and Experiences