Regional Australia failing to keep hold of immigrants

The Australian government is keen to encourage more immigrants to settle in regional areas, but new figures suggest they face an uphill battle to keep them there.

A recent study carried out by demographers at the Australian National University has found that migrants who settle in regional Australia are moving to the cities in increasing numbers.

The study revealed that more than 60 per cent of migrants from specific countries moved away from regions over a five-year period. The trend as more pronounced among Chinese and Indian-born immigrants – two of Australia’s largest source countries of immigrants.

What we found was that the big capital cities – Sydney, Melbourne and Perth and to a certain extent Hobart – were quite good at keeping people but the places everywhere else lost people on average,” ANU demographer Bernard Baffour explained. “The data showed recent government attempts to attract migrants to rural and remote Australia are not working. What we are seeing in the data is that the opposite is happening.”

The Australian Government has recently introduced two new visas for skilled workers who live and work in regional areas for three years, which will nearly triple the number of places offered under the existing regional schemes.

Critics of the scheme are concerned that many immigrants will use these visas as a route to permanent residency, before moving to the larger cities once they have achieved this.

The ANU study, which encompasses two research papers, showed some migrant populations were more likely to re-settle elsewhere within Australia than others, with New Zealanders particularly fluid.

Perth was attractive to immigrants from the United Kingdom and Brisbane to New Zealanders.

For Chinese immigrants, Sydney was the preferred destination, while Indians favoured Melbourne.

Article published 16th May 2019