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Australians ‘vote with their feet’ in choosing where to live. While capital city growth has been high in recent years, between 2011 and 2016 over 650,000 capital city residents moved out, and of these over 400,000 (63%) chose to move to a regional area.

Over the past four years, Greater Sydney has shown a net regional internal migration loss, and each of those years the majority of people that left Greater Sydney moved to other parts of New South Wales (ABS 3412.0 – Migration, Australia, 2016-17).

With the desirability of a capital city lifestyle being challenged, improvements in regional city and town infrastructure that further enhance their liveability will increase the flow of people out of congested cities without the need for individual relocation incentives.

While there is a belief that growing populations can be effectively supported only through centralised populations with high population densities in major capital cities, many Australian residents are already looking to alternate opportunities offered in regional cities and towns. This shift is due, in part, to the challenges facing capital cities in keeping pace with improved infrastructure, increased services, and equitable access to housing.

Key recommendations include:

  • Rebalancing of national and state infrastructure spending to enhance liveability in regional centres;
  • The need for further analysis of the economic impacts of increasing urbanisation focusing on cities only;
  • Targeted programs to support economic diversification and jobs in slow growing regional areas;
  • Improvements in education and training to help workers living in regional areas with high workforce demands – ‘fill vacancies from within’; and
  • Removing barriers to secondary migration of international migrants wanting to relocate to regional areas, and funding to support community initiatives to assist with the successful settlement of migrants.


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