Our small towns need support to keep them thriving


Our small towns need support to keep them thriving

Creating vibrant communities and investing in their inhabitants is the way to keep them thriving, Regional Development Australia (RDA) Orana executive officer Megan Dixon said in response to the release of the Regional Australia Institute’s (RAI) Small Towns Report Card.

The study showed that small towns are missing out in the two main areas of health and education - with access to psychologists, preschool teachers and dentists all scoring an ‘F’ on the report card.

Mrs Dixon said working towards changing this rating was an important factor to be considered.

“In a region, small towns have a role. They support important and valuable industries, that can’t operate without people and services.”

Mrs Dixon believes that small towns and the lifestyles they offer should be celebrated and supported.

“It can be a brilliant experience living in a small town and making the most of being part of a close-knit, friendly community. You just don’t get the same feeling in a bigger place.”

Providing access to basic health services and education facilities was a vital aspect of retaining populations and maintaining these country communities.

“We need to see more incentives to encourage people to live in those communities.

“The Federal Government has ruled to support teachers in repayment of their HECS debt, we’d like to see that in all professions.”

The RAI report found that inner regional towns, which are closer to cities, have shown an 85 per cent growth rate in professionals, while rural and remote areas have only grown by seven per cent.  

Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics as part of the 2016 Census revealed that rural areas in the Orana region are in decline, while the regional centres of Dubbo and Mudgee have experienced population increases.

“Although the Orana region has had a net gain of 2.6 per cent, this has been driven by the growth of the Mid-Western (7.9 per cent) and Dubbo (5.9 per cent) regions,” Mrs Dixon explained./ENDS

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