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Population decline in rural regions: a fair indicator of community and economic wellbeing?

  • Year: 2002
  • Author: Budge, Trevor
  • Journal Name: 2020 vision: Australia's demographic future: Australian Population Association 11th Biennial Conference
  • Publisher: Australian Population Association
  • Published Location: Acton, ACT
  • Country: Australia
  • State/Region: Victoria

This paper explains that economic and social indicators such as population and employment present only a partial view of regional conditions, and show areas of deep decline to media and government policy makers. However, the author contends that towns and regions travel in cycles of economic, social and community change, that need to be appreciated when planning programs and policies. A case study of the small town of Murtoa, in the Wimmera region of Western Victoria, highlights that though the statistics may seem in decline, the town is positive about its future and has implemented numerous long term initiatives. New private industries have replaced previous job loss, commuting is promoted, and small schools previously facing closure are now sought for their small size. Young people are still leaving small towns to pursue higher education and employment, but there are initiatives encouraging them to maintain links, visit, and, hopefully, to return.

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