This report summarises the findings of a review of selected aspects of the 2010 and 2011 regional plans of the 55 Regional Development Australia (RDA) committees. The Indian Ocean territories of Christmas Island and Cocos Keeling Island are also included in the summary, because although they are not part of an RDA, they are aligned with RDA Midwest Gascoyne to achieve regional development outcomes and also prepared a regional plan.
According to its National Charter, RDA is a partnership between the Australian, state, territory and local governments to strengthen regional communities. RDA consists of a national network of 55 committees, which work with all levels of government, business and community groups to support the growth and development of all regions in Australia. RDA is administered by the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport.
RDA regions are typically made up of several local government areas and vary in size and population. There are 14 RDA regions in NSW, 12 in Queensland, eight in SA, nine in WA, nine in Victoria and the remaining three are the state of Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT. As part of their contractual arrangements with the Australian Government, Regional Development Australia committees are required to prepare and submit regional plans and update them annually. These plans set out the economic, environmental and social vision for the region, articulate the drivers of change, identify strengths, weaknesses and opportunities and list priorities for action. They also describe the region, its attributes, industry and employment base. That is, they provide a social, economic and environmental profile of the region.
In 2012, staff from the ABS reviewed the 55 regional plans prepared by the RDA committees. The purposes of this review were to understand the key issues facing RDA committees in urban, rural and remote areas of Australia and how those issues could be supported by data and analysis. This research paper summarises those issues, grouped in the following categories: economy, population, environment, society and infrastructure. A number of RDA committees also identified data gaps and deficiencies. These are discussed in Chapter 7.
It is important to note that this research paper does not summarise the opportunities and aspirations that were also found in the RDA regional plans. Also, the issues identified in this review:
- cannot be attributed to particular groups of stakeholders, as plans did not generally state whether the issues were raised by the RDA committee, members of the community, government stakeholders or in previous reports about the region;
- cannot be added up, ranked or compared across regions, as they differ in importance and severity both within and between regions.