Regional Australia Institute to host Perth event this month

Now that the federal election is over, the role regional Australia played in the result is now being analysed with great interest.

In the lead up to polling day, the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) was often asked the same question - what is it that regional Australia needs?

The results of our Policy Hack in Canberra earlier this year certainly gave a clear direction of what that was, and called for a new approach to the way government works with regional Australia.

Whether you live in south-west WA, or northern NSW, the local needs can be very different, reflecting the diversity that is regional Australia.

However, as a collective group, regional Australia needs governments to invest in 'soft' infrastructure - put simply, governments need to invest in people and the places that they live.

While we know investment in infrastructure such as roads, rail and airports is critical, our research is showing that regional Australia needs a rebalanced direction. Investing is human capital has to be pushed further up the agenda to meet jobs demand of the future.

On June 12, we're heading to Perth to roll-out the next of our national event series - Regions Rising 2019 - where we are elevating the issues most critical to regional Australia. If you are in WA and passionate about the future of regions, we'd invite you to book a seat.

As we head around the country, we will also be unveiling key RAI research. In Perth, Western Australia's Minister for Regional Development Alannah MacTiernan will be launching our Regional Growth Prospects Report.

This report looks at four industries important to the economic success of regional Australia - food processing, Tourism, advanced manufacturing and creative industries. The report takes a deep dive into the job market of these four sectors - to find out where they matter the most in regional Australia.

This piece of research will enable policy makers and regional stakeholders to prioritise investment opportunities and help drive local economies in a more strategic way -and ultimately drive job growth.

In 2016, our last census count revealed 221,592 regional Australians were employed in tourism, 31,286 in advanced manufacturing, 95,660 in the creative industry sector and 86,562 in food processing.

Growth in these industries could lead to increased employment and the positive socio-economic benefits this brings to a local community.

For the regions where this matters most, regional leaders will need to take a good look at the workforce and skill availability in their regions and act to ensure potential new jobs can be filled.

To do this, regions might like to look at implementing Regional Learning Systems (growing workers from within) or regional migration strategies - as outlined in the RAI's recent The Future of Regional Jobs Report.

There are many examples of where regional communities are ahead of government and driving their own communities through locally-led strategies around education and jobs - but people want to be supported.

Once our report is released, we're encouraging regional leaders to take a look and see how your region is tracking, then kick start conversations about what plans are needed for the future.

Our Policy Hack in Canberra confirmed that regional Australians want to be empowered through the implementation of flexible and place-based policy that resonates with where they live.

This reflects a shift from the blanket polices that often seek to ease the burden of administrative functions, towards the people and place itself, and towards the intended outcomes of the intervention.

The RAI's Regional Growth Prospects Report will be available on our website on June 12 - www.regionalaustralia.org.au.

Liz Ritchie is Regional Australia Institute co-chief executive.