Big business talks jobs and housing availability in regional Australia

MEMBERS of the Regional Australia Institute’s Regional Australia Council (RAC) met this week for the first time following the launch of the RAI’s ‘Regionalisation Ambition 2032 – A Framework to Rebalance the Nation (the Ambition)’.

Council members include Aurizon, Australia Post, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, Commonwealth, Domain, Elders, Essential Energy, Expedia Group, KPMG, nab, nbn co., Nutrien Ag Solutions, NRMA, Optus, Transgrid, Telstra and Woolworths.

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The Ambition was co-developed by Council members to advance solutions to regional Australia’s challenges and to capture the opportunities over the next ten years.

This important body of work has sparked a critical new national conversation about Australia’s population distribution and the planning needed to support the nation’s future.

Members once again reported that finding workers and the availability of housing were the biggest challenges when doing business in the regions.

“Council members make up some of regional Australia’s biggest employers,” RAI CEO Liz Ritchie said.

“The consistent message from RAC members is that finding enough people with the requisite skills is becoming more and more difficult.”

This is in the context of last week’s record 93,000 regional job vacancies as reported by the National Skills Commission.

“Central to the job challenge is a historically tight regional rental market, which is impeding the attraction of new recruits to our regions and therefore putting a handbrake on business growth,” Ms Ritchie said.

“In order to change our future, we must act and think differently, and we must call on our leaders to do the same.

Australia needs a tailored regional lens on the issues affecting our nation.

“We are not a homogeneous nation, we are diverse and this requires unique solutions and settings.”

The Regionalisation Ambition 2032 includes targets to reduce recruitment difficulty to 40 percent down from 70 percent in 2022 and to increase regional rental vacancy rates to above three percent.

Vacancy rates in many regional centres are currently below one percent.

Having co-developed the Regionalisation Ambition 2032, the focus of the Council, through the RAI, now turns to bringing about the policy and investment changes needed to achieve targets and to rebalance the nation.

“The Council is of firm agreement that shared advocacy across the whole of government is the best strategy.

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