Economic Development Drives Population Growth

The 2018 South Australian Regional Development Conference was held in Kadina SA on 7 and 8 June. The conference was attended by over 130 people and was supported by a range of organisations including Regional Development Australia, Economic Development Australia (EDA), SA Water, Primary Industries and Regions SA, and The Legatus Group. At a masterclass on Day 2 of the conference, Grazio Mariano (URPS) joined presenters including Roger Lee, the Executive Director from Economic Development Central Oregon (USA), Simon Millcock, CEO of The Legatus Group, Dr Niki Vincent, Commissioner for Equal Opportunity, Heidi Hodge, Community Engagement and Rural Research Manager, Mid North Knowledge Partnership and Emma Young, Regional Manager, Yorke and North Country SA Primary Health Network. With insights and case-studies from Central Oregon (USA), Latrobe Valley (VIC) and the Yorke Peninsula and Mid North Region of South Australia, the masterclass provided opportunities for in-depth discussion on the key theme of population growth. Grazio presented a case study from the Latrobe Valley Economic Growth Zone and facilitated a discussion group. A copy of the presentation is available here.

The discussions on regional population growth included:

  • Retaining and increasing regional populations is critical to ensure communities have employment opportunities and retain local services such as schools and hospitals.
  • “Treading water” with respect to population levels is not good enough. Communities need to take action to retain and grow population.
  • Population growth in itself, is not always the most important part of the message. It’s more about increasing economic opportunities for all sectors of our communities (young, old, women, migrants, etc), employment,  liveability, supporting infrastructure and fostering a culture of inclusiveness. These will in-turn lead to population growth.
  • Although a strategic national and state level population framework is desirable, it’s the responsibility of all parties, including local businesses, communities, community organisations, local, State and Federal governments, to provide practical solutions.

Feedback on the masterclass was very positive as this response demonstrates “sincere congratulations on an excellent event. The theme was relevant, the presentations thoughtful and instructive and the masterclass extremely informative”.

The feedback and notes from the conference are being provided to the South Australian Local Government Association which is developing a report on a South Australian Population Policy.