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Intergovernmental Shared Inquiry 

The Shared Inquiry is a research partnership model between the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) and the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments, supported by a number of Australian universities.

Since its inception in 2018, an annual research agenda is agreed between the RAI and the participating governments to produce high-quality and robust research into one or more priority policy areas. Policy workshops are held throughout the year to discuss findings and their implications for policy.

2021 Shared Inquiry

After a surge in interest in regional living, the topic of regional housing has been in the national spotlight. This project will examine regional housing market dynamics. Regional housing markets have come under significant pressure in recent months. This pressure – and the significant consequences being felt by regional residents – has been widespread and synchronised. It has captured the attention of the wider public and policymakers at all three levels of government. Yet there are significant gaps in the wider public conversation on -and understanding of- the true dynamics underscoring these housing market pressures. This research project will seek to fill these gaps. 

Housing Discussion Paper

Foundations of Regional Housing

National productivity growth in Australia has been very slow in recent years, and this has underpinned the slow growth in real per capita incomes in Australia.  Between 2009 and 2019 Australia’s per capita income slipped from 10th to 13th amongst OECD countries.  Innovation is needed to expand the economic base and create new jobs in new industries. The project’s main objective is to uncover the secrets of success in Australia’s most innovative regional businesses and most competitive regional business clusters.

2020 Shared Inquiry

In a year of devastating bushfires, unprecedented floods and a worldwide pandemic, we devoted our attention to developing tools to help regional communities and businesses recover from disaster and strengthening their resilience.

Natural disasters are a recurring feature of life in regional

Australia.  Drought is currently a major concern for governments in Queensland and New South Wales, while fires and floods occur periodically in all jurisdictions.  Alongside these natural disasters, economic shocks driven by domestic market changes and global market forces are also causing both slow and rapid adjustments in many regions.  While the causes may be different, there are some overlapping elements to the way these kinds of shocks are managed and recovered from in regional Australia.

Much work has been done on this topic in recent years.  The gap filled by the RAI Shared Inquiry Program centred on business experiences of disaster and recovery, and identifying the most effective local, state and commonwealth support to build resilience, reduce exposure and aid recovery.

Three main themes were covered in the research:

  • The impacts of natural disasters on main-street retail and services in regional Australia
  • Identifying the most effective ways of building business resilience in regional communities
  • Recovery pathways for businesses in affected rural and regional communities, two South Australian case studies

 

2020 The impacts of natural disasters on main-street retail and services in regional Australia , UniSA

2020 What are the most effective ways of building business resilience in regional communities? , UniSA

2020 Recovery pathways for businesses in affected rural and regional communities, two South Australian case studies , UniSA

2020 Recovery pathways for businesses in affected rural and regional communities, case studies from Qld, NSW and Victoria , RMIT

2020 Governance and decision-making in disaster recovery , RMIT

2020 Regional business supply chains and disaster recovery , RMIT

2020 Rebuilding Regional Housing markets , RAI

2020 Review of indices of resilience and adaptability  , RAI

2020 Devolving decision-making to build resilience , CDU

2019 Shared Inquiry

In 2019 we built on the work of the 2018 Shared Inquiry which showed how different regional communities are adapting and changing to manage their workforce challenges. Our work on the Future of Regional Jobs provided jurisdictions with an analysis of the employment prospects in regional Australia of two important industries:  tourism and health.

Since mid-2018, there have been growing signs of worker shortages in many parts of regional Australia. While there are some variations in the types of skills needed, competition between regions for workers in many professional and trade fields is increasing.

However, building from the work of the 2018 Shared Inquiry, the results have shown how different regional communities are adapting and changing to manage their workforce challenges.

Grassroots initiatives have shown to be very effective at improving school completion rates, helping young people train on the job and stay in the region, as well as successfully linking workers to employers.

In 2019, the RAI’s Intergovernmental Shared Inquiry examined local and regional responses to workforce challenges. These included:

  • Technology change and the impact it has on the size of the regional workforce, as well as the changing skills needed to meet the workforce demand.
  • An examination of initiatives in which different regional communities are taking to improve the ‘pathway into work’ for school leavers, and job seekers.
  • Better approaches for delivering education and training in ‘thin’ markets.
  • An analysis of the labour market to explore why participation rate and ‘employment culture’ varies in different regional areas.
  • A review of the expectations of regional job creation through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), and the actions regions are taking to ensure there is a capable workforce available.
  • An investigation of the healthcare and social assistance industry as the biggest source of job demand for regions in the future,. This looks at the mix of the public and private sector, high and low skill jobs in different places, and provides an understanding of future demands in places of different socioeconomic characteristics.

Mid-Sized Towns

Across the country, more than 2 million regional Australians live in a mid-sized town – these are towns that have between 5,000 and 50,000 residents. The 2019 Intergovernmental Shared Inquiry Program shone a spotlight on these communities to examine their importance from an economic perspective, as well as their future growth trajectories.

In recent years, the RAI has conducted significant work relating to Regional Cities and Small Towns. This body of work – Mid-Sized Towns –helped to fill the gap in evidence-based research relating to regional Australia. The main themes of the Inquiry Program were:

 

  • Understanding the types of mid-size towns we have in regional Australia – how they differ from each other in population size, in their main industries, and in their locations.
  • Identifying what attracts people and businesses to these towns and what keeps them there.
  • Examining how a mid-size town plans its own economic growth – and seeking to predict when is it best to specialise in an industry, and when it makes sense to diversify the local economy.
  • Identifying how important schools, health facilities, and community infrastructure are to the people living and working in mid-size towns and examining the concept of “liveability”