National Stronger Regions Fund Now Open

SetWidth741-National-Stronger-Regions-FundThe Hon. Warren Truss MP, Minister for Infrastructure & Regional Development has announced that the Australian Government is getting on with delivering priority economic infrastructure across Australia with Round One of the National Stronger Regions Fund now open.

The new fund will invest $1 billion over five years and support priority economic and infrastructure areas – from freight and transport projects to convention centres and major multi-purpose sports facilities.

These investments will have a major focus on strengthening economies in our regions by improving the productivity, employment, and workforce skills of Australians.

The fund will enhance the economic growth, activity and output of our regions and sustain these gains into the future, with a particular focus on assisting disadvantaged areas to achieve long term economic prosperity.

The fund will invest in crucial infrastructure projects nominated by local communities, ensuring Australia’s regions are investing in their own future.

As well as providing direct investment in major projects that deliver economic and social benefits, the fund will have flow on benefits of improving the capacity of organisations to deliver projects.

The fund encourages the formation of strong partnerships that engage project proponents with the private sector, and local, state and territory governments.

Projects seeking funding will be considered in consultation with the Australian Government’s National Infrastructure Committee, which has a strong interest in, and commitment to, harnessing the potential of Australia’s regions.

The Guidelines for the National Stronger Regions Fund detail the type of project proposals sought, how to lodge an application, how assessments will be conducted, and critical programme dates.

To access the guidelines, and to lodge a Round One application, visit

Sylvia Burbery, MARS Petcare Australia at ARDC

Sylvia Burbery, General Manager, MARS Petcare Australia will be presenting at the Australian Regional Development Conference.

Sylvia BurberyMs Sylvia Burbery, General Manager, MARS Petcare Australia

Sylvia Burbery is General Manager of Mars Petcare Australia/NZ, responsible for delivering profitable growth and leading all aspects of the business operations for a team of approximately 1000 associates, four manufacturing sites, two sales offices and more than 14 well-loved and trusted brands.

Sylvia started her career with Mars Incorporated in 1994 and worked in a number of roles across Sales and HR in New Zealand and the US including developing the framework for a significant transition in the US business.

In 2005 she returned to New Zealand as Managing Director of the New Zealand business, where she lead a significant turn-around in the business results and culture, which saw Mars New Zealand win the JRA Best Places to Work award.  In 2009, she moved into her current role as Managing Director for the Mars Petcare business in Australia.

Sylvia gained an MBA with distinction from Massey University in 1999. She has two adult children, is passionate about travel, and is actively involved in her local community.

Building Awards – Rural and Regional Innovation

Building Awards for Rural and Regional Innovation will be presented at the Australian Regional Development Conference dinner on the 15 October 2014 in Albury.

To find out more please visit the conference website

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Rural population – Vacant dwellings in rural areas

Vacant dwellings in rural areas, posted by April 1, 2014 in the Id Blog

It might surprise some people that about one in ten dwellings in Australia are vacant on Census night.  What’s more, as we’ve blogged previously, there are distinct spatial patterns to vacant dwellings, with the highest proportions generally recorded in coastal areas with high amenity.  The reasons for this are well documented and are generally due to holiday or second home ownership.  However, there are inland parts of Australia where the proportion of vacant dwellings is quite high, and in some parts, increasing over time.  Some of these are in locations that are not considered high amenity, so what are the characteristics of these areas?  Let’s take a closer look.


What region has the highest proportion of vacant dwellings?

Rural areas, regardless of whether they are on the coast or inland, tend to have higher vacancy rates than metropolitan areas and large regional centres. Similar to coastal regions, many are located in areas of high amenity and hence are attractive locations for holiday or second homes. The table below shows the inland areas with the highest proportion of vacant dwellings across Australia. Note that inland areas are defined as those which do not share a boundary with the coast, and that the table excludes SA2s with less than 200 dwellings.

At the SA2 level, Central Highlands in Tasmania has the highest proportion of vacant dwellings in Australia – 64.2% in 2011. This roughly equates to the Central Highlands Council covering central Tasmania – a sparsely settled area with small towns. Apparently there are a number of fishing shacks around the lakes, which at Census time during the week in the middle of winter are unlikely to be occupied.

SA2 State Proportion (%)
Central Highlands TAS 64.2
Mansfield VIC 45.0
Mannum SA 41.3
Western SA 37.7
Cooma Region NSW 33.4
Mukinbudin WA 33.1
Bright – Mount Beauty VIC 31.9
Alexandra VIC 31.4
APY Lands SA 30.8
Tanami NT 30.2

Source:  ABS, Census of Population and Housing (2011) – unpublished data

Interestingly, there are SA2s in this list that are located in snowfield regions – an area were you expect any vacant dwellings to be occupied on Census night. In Mansfield, almost half of dwellings were unoccupied – surprising given that Mount Buller and its ski fields are located in this area. Other ski field locations with a high proportion of vacant dwellings on Census night include Cooma Region in NSW (33.4%) and Bright – Mount Beauty (31.9%). While the ski fields have their peak season in August, it may be affected by the quality of the snow season – 2011 was not a good season for the ski fields and this would have had an impact on vacancy rates. In addition, because of the high amenity of these areas there are a growing number of holiday/second homes.

There are also some very remote areas with high Indigenous populations in this list, namely APY Lands in the north west corner of South Australia and Tanami in the western part of the Northern Territory. The higher proportion of vacant dwellings may relate to the high rate of personal mobility amongst the Indigenous population but there may also be a number of abandoned houses due to the remoteness factor.


Small area 1991 1996 2001 2006 2011
Proportion (%)
Echuca 8.3 8.4 7.5 8.7 9.3
Kyabram 9.0 8.0 8.9 8.8 8.3
Lockington-Gunbower & District 8.7 11.5 11.3 15.5 19.1
Rochester 9.4 8.9 9.5 11.6 13.0
Rushworth & District 16.8 22.5 18.5 18.1 22.9
Stanhope & District 7.6 11.3 9.8 11.2 13.6
Tongala & District 9.0 10.5 8.0 8.6 10.8

Source:  Census of Population and Housing (1991-2011), compiled and presented in

Do you live in an inland area? Have you noticed changes in the occupancy rates over time? Give us your thoughts on the potential reasons in the comments section.

idMeet the Population experts at the Australian Regional Development Conference


Why regions matter?

Regional Australia is used to refer to the non-metropolitan areas of the nation that lie beyond the five major capital cities and their immediate surrounding suburbs.


Regional Development – why regions matter?  Regions are home to over 32 per cent of the nation (Regional Australia Institute)

Australia’s sustainability and future are reliant on the development of regional areas. Some regional areas are flourishing and others are struggling.

Through innovation, collaboration and sharing there has been progress in many regional communities.

Australian Regional Development Conference will provide equal focus to the advancement of economic and social outcomes for regional Australia.

Economic, Planning, Environment and Community Development 

The Australian Regional Development Conference will focus on the broad issues of economic, planning, environment and community development.

The aim of the conference is to advance economic and social outcomes for regional Australia.

The conference provides the opportunity to discuss the challenges, opportunities and future of regional Australia.

The conference will address

  • Economic development opportunities for business and job creation
  • Social inclusion issues of unemployment; education completion rates, health delivery and community development
  • Planning and building challenges of land use application, refurbishment and renewal in a regional setting
  • Sustainability and liveable communities principles
  • How to meet the challenging in uncertain times; climate change, population shifts, natural disasters, droughts, mining boom and agriculture adjustments
  • Infrastructure challenges for freight to distribute products from regional Australia to urban and overseas export markets

register for ARDCJoin the discussion why regions matter at the Australian Regional Development Conference