Progress in regional Australia on forum agenda

Albury/Wodonga is set to host the two-day How Fast is Regional Australia Moving conference, which will bring together leaders from business, industry, commerce and government to discuss regional challenges and strengths.

Among the speakers at the March 12–13 event, hosted by Murray Now Limited, will be Geoff Frost from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development's Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics.

Geoff will present the Bureau's research into the changing patterns of settlement in regional Australia over the past century.

The 20th century saw Australia's population become increasingly concentrated in major coastal cities and regional centres, while many rural inland towns declined.

In the report, The evolution of Australian towns the Bureau analysed the role of regional towns as key economic service centres facing advancing technology and changes in retail, industry, amenity and investment markets.

A key finding is that increased consumer mobility and better transport and communications increases competition in regional markets with the associated opportunities and pitfalls for towns.

A gradual weakening of the relationship between local industries and the towns that support them, alongside increases in life expectancy and wealth, has seen growth in the importance of amenity as a key driver of modern settlement patterns

The report concludes that a stronger focus on amenity and services are likely to offer the most success in allowing modern Australian towns to prosper. The combination of natural beauty, good local services and transport accessibility make a winning combination for towns going forward.

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The evolution of Australian towns: