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Hugo Centre for Migration and Population Research Literature review: Policy that encourages population to relocate to regional areas Project Scope Summary report

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Hugo Centre for Migration and Population Research Literature review: Policy that encourages population to relocate to regional areas Project Scope Summary report
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    Hugo Centre for Migration and Population Research Literature review: Policy that encourages population to relocate to regional areas Dr Romy Wasserman  Associate Professor Alan Gamlen    The University of Adelaide 2 Project Scope An academic literature review of existing literature pertaining to policy that encourages population to relocate to regional areas rather than the capital big cities. The output will be a plain English report compiling and tabulating relevant literature, without policy recommendations. Summary report Introduction This review considers literature pertaining to policies that encourage population to relocate to regional areas, rather than the capital big cities. While the focus is mainly on the Australian policy context, consideration is given to international case studies and policy examples. For the purposes of this review, the literature has been divided into two categories: studies that focus on regional migration  policies designed to disperse international migrants beyond capital cities, and those that examine general policies and initiatives encouraging movement to the regions ( internal  migration). Overall, we distinguish four types of relevant policy: marketing strategies, visa-linked incentives, and place- or  people-based investments. Defining ‘regional’ Although the terms regional  and regional Australia  are widely used in the literature, there is seldom a clear or consistent definition given for the geographical area/s they incorporate. The terms are often used interchangeably with each other, or with more general words like rural , countryside , and the bush . A default classification for a regional area, and arguably the most common usage of the term, is any area that falls o utside the metropolitan zone of Australia’s capital cities (Maude 2004; McManus and Pritchard 2000; Withers and Powall 2003). This aligns with the definition used by the Regional Australia Institute (RIA), which states regional Australia “ includes all of the towns, small cities and areas that lie beyond the major capital cities ” (Regional Institute Australia 2017). Some authors use the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) developed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to inform their discussion (Hugo 2008b). In these cases, the spatial categories most frequently used are the Remoteness Structure, which classifies Australia into five large regions that share common characteristics of remoteness or distance from metropolitan areas, and the Section of State (SOS) Structure, defining urban and rural sections of state based on population range. A third means of classifying regional areas srcinates with government departments who oversee  policies and programs that fall within so-called regional Australia. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), for example, administers the Regional Migration Program and defines regional Australia differently according to visa type. In some cases, the boundaries of ‘Regional Australia’ are extended to include low-population-growth metropolitan areas, including the capital cities Adelaide, Hobart and Darwin. Background However defined, regional Australia comprises a vast and diverse geographical area with marked contrasts in population densities ranging from small to large inland towns, bustling coastal zones,  population centres within commuting distance of bigger cities, and very remote locations. Demographic trends are beyond the scope of this review, but form its backdrop and, often, are key drivers of the policy responses under discussion.    The University of Adelaide 3 Broadly speaking regional areas are facing slow growth rates or population decline caused by low fertility (in some cases, sub-replacement levels) and net outmigration, particularly among youth and young adults who are attracted to educational and employment opportunities in larger cities, as well as the lifestyle they offer (Argent, Smailes and Griffin 2007). The latter, in combination with an ageing  population, have led to serious labour and skills shortages, which have been intensified in agricultural zones by job losses due to other factors including expanding economies of scale, technological advances, and climatic uncertainty (Argent and Tonts 2015). Understandably, regional areas want to reverse these trends and policy makers are increasingly under  pressure to do so (Wulff et al. 2008). Some commentators have argued that the recruitment of individuals and families from metropolitan settings holds the greatest hope for demographic, social and economic development of regional areas (Argent, Smailes and Griffin 2007). For others, research has shown immigration (international) can play a role in reversing population decline in regional areas by supplementing the supply of skills and labour, and stemming the decline of services (Hugo 2008b; Hugo and Morén ‐ Alegret 2008). Approach to the literature Stage one of this literature review involved in-depth exploration of academic databases for peer-reviewed journal articles and books. A significant body of literature examines policies aimed at channelling international  immigrants to regional areas, both in Australia and internationally, but limited academic attention has been given to policies encouraging internal  migration to regional areas. Stage two of this review extended the search to include reports and other material available on the internet. Again, this revealed a substantial body of work on regional migration policies for international migrants, and also offered some information on internal migration policies. The dearth of literature on policies to encourage the movement of people internally reflects the lack of  policies that seek to do this. While government can encourage, even induce, movement to regional areas, it would be an egregious overreach to legislate where people must live. This is not to say, however, that strategies cannot be adopted to encourage settlement in a particular area and several reports in this review provide excellent examples of strategies that have been used before by regional communities in Australia and overseas (Kenyon and Black 2001a, 2001b; McMillan 2015; SCORD 2004). Examples are provided in text below, and more detail can be found in the annotated bibliography that follows. Moreover, in recent decades, the approach of successive Australian Federal governments to regional development has been underpinned by a preference for ‘neoliberal’ policies involving deregulation,  privatization, labour market reform, and smaller government (Maude 2004). This has manifested in regional Australia as a largely hands-off approach to economic development, infrastructure provision, and spatial planning by government (Tonts and Haslam-McKenzie 2005). By contrast, the Whitlam government in the 1970s had pursued an interventionist regional policy, which included an explicit  plan regarding population distribution or decentralisation  (Beer 2012; Tonts and Haslam-McKenzie 2005). Though these attempts ultimately failed, decentralisation has nevertheless been a long-held, never realised, regional policy goal in Australia (Gurran and Blakely 2007; Hugo 1999, 2013). The next section broadly outlines policies that encourage population to relocate to regional areas, with examples.    The University of Adelaide 4 Policies to encourage regional settlement of international migrants Policies to encourage regional settlement of international migrants in Australia, dubbed ‘regionalisation policies’ (Wulff et al. 2008), can be divided into those that aim to attract skilled migrants  and those aimed at resettling or relocating humanitarian  entrants (Boese 2010). Policies to attract skilled migrants  largely form part of a large-scale, centralised program introduced in Australia in the mid-1990s, primarily overseen by the Federal government, chiefly the Department of Immigration (Hugo, Khoo and McDonald 2006). A range of visas in this program direct permanent, temporary, skilled and business migrants into regional Australia where they are required to stay for a minimum of two years, but hopefully stay for longer. A number of articles describe these policies, and assess their impacts (Hugo 2008a). The Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS), for example, was designed to meet two objectives: providing the skilled labour needed in regional areas and facilitating the distribution of population away from capital cities to regional areas. Increasingly, Australian States and Territories have been able to influence the number and profile of migrants entering through the RSMS by way of their expanding role in the recruitment, selection and settlement of migrants within their jurisdictions ( Gołębiowska 2012; Wickramaarachchi and Butt 2014). However, the overwhelming focus of the relevant literature, is on what attracts skilled migrants to regional areas and what keeps them there (Department of Immigration and Border Protection 2014; Hugo, Khoo and McDonald 2006; Miles et al. 2006; Wulff and Dharmalingam 2008), with retention identified as a major challenge for governments (Hugo 2008b; Wickramaarachchi and Butt 2014;  Wulff and Dharmalingam 2008). Still, the consensus is that the body of academic research on regional migration is underdeveloped (Boese 2010; Wickramaarachchi and Butt 2014). The literature pertaining to policies that direct humanitarian  migrants to regional areas is even smaller. While there is a vast academic literature on other elements of refugee and humanitarian migration and settlement in Australia, the policy dimensions of regional settlement have been neglected. To a degree, this gap is filled by the significant number of reports on the regional settlement of refugee and humanitarian migrants in Australia (discussed below), though few deal directly or in depth with the  policies or programs driving this flow. Meanwhile, the trend has been an increasing number of refugee and humanitarian migrants settling in regional Australia. Direct regional settlement of humanitarian entrants was not undertaken in a planned way by the Federal government until the Department of Immigration conducted a review of settlement services for migrant and humanitarian entrants in 2003 ( Gołębiowska 2012 ; McDonald et al. 2008). The main objectives of the ensuing policies was to relieve the pressure humanitarian entrants place on services in larger centres, boost the population in regional towns and benefit the migrants ( Gołębiowska 2012 ). The literature draws a useful distinction between regional resettlement   of refugee-humanitarian migrants  , understood to be direct settlement in regional areas, and regional relocation  or secondary migration , or the voluntary movement of refugees from their first settlement location in Australia to a second (Broadbent, Cacciattolo and Carpenter 2007; McDonald et al. 2008). Direct humanitarian settlement in regional areas has been facilitated by Federal government policy in the form of visas such as the Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) (Department of Immigration and Border Protection 2017). Other Federal efforts to channel migrants into regional areas are two pilot  programs to settle humanitarian entrants in the regional towns of Mt Gambier and Ballarat, although these involved collaboration between all levels of government (Piper and Associates 2008, 2009).    The University of Adelaide 5 By contrast, relocation or secondary migration of humanitarian entrants is typically supported by  programs and initiatives led by local governments or non-government agencies, including community and business groups. Examples include the settlement of Iraqis in Shepparton by the Ethnic Community Council and the critical role an employment firm played in bringing the first Sudanese migrants to Colac (Taylor and Stanovic 2005) . As Broadbent et al (2007) write, these are “local solutions for local communities” (p. viii). Policies that encourage internal migration Policies and initiatives to encourage internal  migration to regional Australia are similarly fragmented and ad hoc, with most rolled out by local governments and non-government organisations responding to demographic and economic challenges by taking action to attract and retain newcomers and, occasionally, returnees (Regional Institute Australia 2014, 2016). Among the Federal-run exceptions are the Harvest Trail Guide (Piper and Associates 2008), a job-search program linking job seekers with harvest jobs Australia wide, and the General Practice Rural Incentives Program (Piper and Associates 2009), which encourages and incentivises GPs to move to rural and remote Australia. The latter is a good example of what McMillan (2015) defines as ‘countering strategies’ , that is, strategies to counter depopulation by stimulating population growth. McMillan classifies these as either strategies to attract human capital or attract capital flows. SCORD (2004) provide many examples of community initiatives to attract skilled people, including financial incentives like subsidised housing and access to online education so people do not have to leave to study. Meanwhile, local government approaches to attracting business and investment have included business incubators, changing planning regulations and rate relief from councils (Rural Councils Victoria 2013). Marketing has also been a popular tool adopted by local governments to influence city dwellers to relocate internally to regional areas. Common approaches have been to use website marketing, conduct expos, and advertise in magazines (Rural Councils Victoria 2013). Connell and McManus (2016)  provide a comprehensive analysis of marketing and place branding to inspire relocation, in their study of the Country and Regional Living Expo in New South Wales. A good example of a program to encourage returness was run by the South Australian government in the early 2000s. It was called ‘Bringing them back home’ and was aimed at ex -residents aged over 30 (Rural Councils Victoria 2013). Though a broad-based decentralisation agenda has not been pursued in Australia, steps to relocate government departments to regional locations have been taken before. In the early 1990s, 500 public servants relocated to Orange when the Department of Agriculture (now Primary Industries) was moved from Sydney (Lowrey 2017). The aim of this move, however, was not to boost regional population but to bring the Department and the people it served  –   farmers  –   closer together. There are currently also  plans to relocate the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (AVPMA) from Canberra to Armidale. International policy context Of course, many of the demographic challenges described above are not unique to the regional areas of Australia, but can be seen in areas outside major cities across the world. They, too, are looking for ways to bolster declining populations and counter ageing. McMillan (2015) critically evaluates the  policies of eight OECD countries to address population decline in regional areas. In the New Zealand context, the report suggests three responses  population decline: 1) non-intervention, 2) countering decline with strategic intervention by attracting human capital (through place-making and marketing)
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