Working paper

Heading north, staying north? The increasing importance of international migrants to northern and remote Australia

24 Jan 2018

Since 2013, northern Australia has experienced a large downturn in its population growth rate, and negative growth in some areas. This followed the highs of the mining boom and was due to net losses of residents to southern regions. Under these circumstances, positive contributions of migrants to population, jobs, and communities have become increasingly important. Existing studies show that northern and remote regions of Australia fare poorly at attracting and retaining international migrants. However, an important consideration in evaluating the success of policies and initiatives for attracting and retaining migrants to these regions is how these are assessed and measured. For many communities across the north, permanent retention of a handful of skilled migrants and their families can significantly improve demographic and economic trajectories. Evaluations on the success of schemes at macro-region levels may miss nuanced and significant population impacts at the local level. This working paper presents three case examples from the Northern Territory demonstrating the potential for overseas migration to alter demographic, economic, and social pathways for northern and remote communities, and thus the broader region.

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