Briefing paper

Briefing paper 1: population

Regional capitals in the WA settlement hierarchy
Cities and towns Regional planning Population Western Australia

This report provides an overview of the population dynamics of Western Australia over the past decade, situating the members of the Western Australian Regional Capitals Alliance (WARCA) within this broader geographical context. This report is the first in a series of reports that are intended to enhance understanding of the growth potential and local competitiveness of the members of WARCA both now and into the future.

The evidence suggests the following regarding recent trends in population dynamics: (1) The overwhelming and persistent dominance of Perth over the rest of Western Australia. (2) Whilst the members of WARCA experienced strong growth over the past decade, they continue to lose ground on Perth. (3) There exists considerable diversity of experience between the members of WARCA, with the ranking of these localities changing between the 2001-2006 and 2006-2010 census periods. Digging deeper into the structure of recent population dynamics, there is evidence: (4) Of divergence across the Western Australian settlement hierarchy, with larger settlements forging ahead and smaller settlements falling behind. (5) That during the period 2001-2006 Roebourne and Broome grew faster, whilst remaining members grew slower than predicted given their populations in 2001. (6) That during the period 2006-2011, Port Hedland and Broome grew faster, whilst other WACRA members grew slower than anticipated. (7) Of significant difference in the age-cohort structures of the members of WARCA, reflecting their different positions within the Western Australian patchwork economy.

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