80% of Aussies want more balance between regions and cities

The vast majority of Australians believe that a more even population spread between cities and regional areas would improve the nation’s outlook and liveability.

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According to the results of a recent survey conducted by the Regional Australia Institute (RAI), 80 per cent of Australians would like to see the population more equitably dispersed throughout the country, rather than the majority living in a handful of major cities.

RAI’s chief executive Liz Ritchie said the survey showed “overwhelming support for regionalisation in this country”, noting that Australians were aware that regions would need to have “the infrastructure, the services, the employment, [and] the investment” to support continued population growth.

“We know the move towards a handful of ‘megacities’ is not the right trajectory for Australia — instead, we must unlock the productivity and economic potential of Australia’s regional cities and communities, and shift the dial in the right direction,” Ms Ritchie said.

The survey was carried out from March to June this year, making up part of the RAI’s wider regionalisation consultation process that has so far engaged with some 2,000 Australians.


Slightly less than half (40 per cent) of respondents were city dwellers themselves, residing in a metropolitan area or large regional city with a population of more than 50,000 people. The institute polled people from every state and territory.

Survey respondents worked mainly across the private sector (31 per cent) or for various levels of government (31 per cent), followed by 20 per cent who worked in the not-for-profit sector and 5 per cent in academia. The remainder were not currently working or chose not to name an occupation.

Survey participants were asked what they felt would be the biggest driver of regional population growth, with the majority identifying hybrid work arrangements as a primary feature that would allow smaller towns to flourish.

But Ms Ritchie also acknowledged that securing the ability of regions to meet an ideal level of population dispersal would require the coordination of a complex number of factors.

“Australia has no single national approach which brings together the various elements needed to unlock regional Australia’s potential and rebalance the population,” she noted.

The body is soon to announce its 10-year plan, called Regionalisation Ambition 2032, aimed at bringing together the various sectors needed to support population spread.

“The Regionalisation Ambition 2032 will set out a framework for collaborative action over the next decade — focussing on five key priority areas: population, jobs and skills, liveability, productivity and innovation, and sustainability and resilience,” Ms Ritchie explained.

“At the RAI, we are creating a movement focused on improving the life and prosperity of our regions so that Australia can reap the benefits of a more balanced nation.”

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