It is all possible!

Balancing Act

The South Coast had been preparing for a promised ‘boom’ for some time. Businesses were braced for the positive impacts of road upgrades including bypasses and bridges and while the highly anticipated completion of these projects is expected to bring with it a stream of new visitors and permanent residents attracted to the easy drive, COVID ushered the boom far quicker than anyone could have predicted. 

Lockdowns led people to want to stretch their legs in the regions, to stop feeling cooped up and strive for a better work-life balance. It’s easy to understand why too, the pristine beaches, strong sense of community, laid-back lifestyle and natural beauty of the region are truly unique. 

The Regional Movers Index (RMI), which tracks population flows from capital cities to regional areas, spiked to an all-time high during COVID of 17.4%. Interestingly, the latest figures from the March quarter this year are still at their third highest level in 5 years at 7.9% – not quite at the dizzying heights of the pandemic levels but still strong. These figures are supported by evidence from the Regional Australia Institute (RAI), which has reported 1 in 5 Australians are still considering a move to regional Australia. The rising cost of living is cited as a potential reason for these findings, along with a significant increase in ‘dissatisfaction in city living’ levels, which is up from 10% in 2021 to 14% in 2023. 

This is great news for regional areas like the South Coast which are experiencing significant workforce shortages. The challenge now of course is to communicate the opportunities that exist locally to these sea/tree changes and secure their skills before they are lured out of the area. While metro businesses have spent millions over many years to promote their career opportunities and employee value propositions, regional businesses have not and the effects are clear. Opportunities in regional areas are not as well known or understood as those in metropolitan areas and investment by individual regional businesses alone to rectify this have been minimal and disjointed.  

It’s worth noting that migration flows in the other direction, from regions back to capitals, rose by 0.9 per cent year on year from March 2022-2023 – an ominous warning of what could be to come if we don’t act quickly and decisively to not only attract but retain skilled people in the regions.  

‘Think Regional’ has been established for this very reason and by ensuring career opportunities in regional areas are as well knows and understood as they are in metro areas, Think Regional is assisting in The Regional Australia Institute’s efforts to ‘rebalance the nation’ – to ensure regional Australia as a great place to live, work, visit and invest in. 

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