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.

vacant-dwellings

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Source:  ABS, Census of Population and Housing (2011) – unpublished data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

Cas

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 profile.id

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

 

Rural Australia has innovation lessons to teach us all

By Elizabeth Webster, University of Melbourne

The word innovation is often associated with banks of computers, not the back paddock. But Australia’s agricultural sector is actually a world leader when it comes to research and development.

Calls are growing for Australia to reverse a productivity malaise by investing more in knowledge infrastructure – it would be wise to take heed of agriculture’s century-long experiment with collaborative research.

Agricultural research and development corporations (RDCs) began in the early 1900s with the wool industry. By the 1930s, in recognition of the importance of the agricultural sector generally, the idea spread to other commodities and government started to provide matching funding.

There are now 15 organisations covering products from meat, eggs, wine and sugar to forestry. Some of the most significant organisations include the Grains Research & Development Corporation and the Cotton Research & Development Corporation. Similar organisations also exist in mining and dairy manufacture.

The success of these organisations is well documented. The most recent evaluation, reviewed by Treasury and the Department of Finance, found for every A$1 invested, $10.51 is gained over 25 years.

The economic benefits come largely from productivity gains, improved market outcomes and improved quality management.

Unfortunately most sectors don’t have government-backed collaborative organisations to help smaller businesses innovate and commercialise research.

Narrowly-targeted or temporary programs are more common. These research schemes are often project specific – like CRCs – or very small. And in many cases the research isn’t industry-led.

It is a shame that, for the most part of Western history, the translation of ideas and science into use has occurred largely by accident: an unusually tenacious scientist shepherds their work to manufacture; a chance personal friendship between a researcher and business person sees a discovery taken into production; a small under-resourced tech transfer unit hits upon a patient capitalist with faith in the idea.

In fact, these are some of the common ways research is commercialised in Australia.

Whereas (lucky) innovations provide enduring returns, other opportunities are missed. It is difficult to quantify these unseen possibilities, although it is clear that Australia has many high quality upstream research bodies, but a very low rate of commercialisation.

Australia’s knowledge infrastructure would be well served if other industries took up the example of RDCs.

All in the design

RDCs work because they are led by industry but share responsibility for funding with government. Industry players fund the organisation, usually through levies, an amount then augmented by public money.

Businesses end up with the benefits of the resulting intellectual property, but over time, the economic benefits are spread across the community through cheaper and better goods and services.

Since the organisation is funded by businesses, there is a strong incentive to engage with the industry. While the individual businesses themselves don’t need to take the time to actively monitor research projects or interact with government policy, they can still benefit from the output.

And because the costs are shared between businesses, narrow projects that benefit only one business are avoided in favour of research that has intra-industry benefits.

For instance the RDC would not fund research that only solved a technological problem that only one member had. Project intellectual property would be owned collectively by the members, not just one company.


RDCs ensure research is translated into tangible benefits for farmers through outreach programs.
AAP/Grenville Turner

Inherent in the RDC model is an in-built extension program that ensures that ready-to-use ideas are transmitted to the end-user. These are very practical programs that reach out in the most appropriate way to farmers.

The livestock RDC, for instance, funds a range of practical workshops designed to help producers gain knowledge and skills to improve livestock operations.

The process from research to commercialisation is a long one. Building up the knowledge infrastructure to streamline this process, whereby industry directs research and sees it translate to its members, requires a certain amount of stability.

RDCs have worked well because they are supported in legislation, which neutralises some of the problems associated with short term government programs that disappear before the people they are meant to help are aware of them.

The agricultural experience has shown these organisations have been remarkably successful in building informal relationships and trust between people in the industries they serve.

These are, of course, important issues to consider if other industries are to begin adopting similar models as part of their drive to innovate.

Not for everyone

RDCs have been a success because they fit with specific industries. There are many other ways of creating and commercialising research, and it depends on the characteristics of each sector as to which approach is best.

Obvious industries that could benefit the most from its own RDC are those that are export orientated or want to become more export focused. This could include the processed food, medical instruments, tourism or heath services sectors.

The rural RDCs work because they are tied to businesses with a common product market, or because they use similar technologies. This means members collaborate in solving these problems, making them unsuitable for promoting domestic competition. They best serve groups of firms that want to compete internationally.

This means that these businesses share common barriers and problems which the RDCs can focus on solving. For example, it may be to improve operational processes, make management more effective or enhance the reputation of Australian products in overseas markets.

The real limitation is that these organisations could not be used for the development of proprietary intellectual property, but to assist export oriented domestic companies that see their competitors as overseas players.

Selling the idea of major government investment into an intangible such as R&D is never easy. It is simple to see the output from tangible investments such as roads and tunnels.

However, there is a considerable body of evidence which shows the importance of R&D and innovation for the wealth of both companies and countries. Selling these notions, although more difficult, will ultimately be more rewarding.

The ConversationElizabeth Webster does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

Australian Regional Development Conference is being held in Albury in October 2014, please visit the website to find out more information.

Meet the keynotes Professor Max Finlayson

Professor Max Finlayson, Charles Sturt University will present on Supporting Dynamic and Sustainable Socio-Environmental Systems: Realities, Challenges and Opportunities with the Murray-Darling Basin Water Plan at the Australian Regional Development Conference.

Max Finlayson

Professor Finlayson is Director of the Institute for Land, Water & Society at Charles Sturt University in Albury.

He is an internationally renowned wetland ecologist with extensive experience in Australia and overseas. He has participated in global assessments such as those conducted by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, and the Global Environment Outlook.

Since the early 1990s he has been a technical advisor to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and has written extensively on wetland ecology and management.

Current research interests include wetland and river management, planning and policies; community involvement in wetland and river management; integration of social, economic and ecologic research; trade-offs among wetland users and uses; water availability and climate change; and managing wetland ecosystem services.

These topics are all relevant to the challenges facing the implementation of the MDB water plan.

Australian Regional Development Conference will be held in Albury NSW on the 15 – 16 October 2014.  To find out more about this conference please visit the website

Early Bird Registration Closing Soon

early birdEarly Bird Registration
An Early Bird rate is being offered  to those who register and pay prior to 4th September 2014.
Register online

Australian Regional Development Conference will be held in Albury NSW on the 15th – 16th October 2014 with optional workshops on the 17th.

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. This conference “where to from here” 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 program 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

Topics

  • Renewable energy and energy supply
  • Natural resource management including water management
  • Planning and Building with focus on small inland town, regional cities and coastal developments
  • Social and recreation developments – cultural, sporting, historic precincts and services
  • Economic development of major regional industries including agriculture, mining and tourism
  • Community Service Delivery with a focus on health, housing affordability/access and special attention to aged care services
  • Employment –  job creation, skilled migration and unemployment
  • Education and Training – regional universities and vocational training
  • Government – policy, funding and evaluation
  • Infrastructure and Transport stream – Road Freight, Rail, shipping and ports, regional airports/airlines, passengers services,
  • Digital – broadband technology, co-location of services

Find out more about the Australian Regional Development Conference:
W:
http://regionaldevelopment.org.au
Ph: (61 7) 5502 2068
Fax: (61 7) 5527 3298
E: secretariat@regionaldevelopment.org.au

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.

regionalaustraliastats

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