Develop regional Victoria
Victoria’s regions contain a diversity of experience, strengths, opportunities and challenges. From Gippsland to the Mallee, and Great South Coast to Ovens Murray, communities are adapting to uncertainty and an accelerating pace of change.
Transitioning local economies, population fluctuation, demographic changes, increasing urbanisation and climate change affect diverse communities differently, across and within regions. Drought, bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic have caused major disruptions.
Each region of Victoria has its own unique character and diverse needs, and solutions must suit local conditions and be flexible
For example, more people moved to regional areas during the COVID19 pandemic, while migration from Melbourne increased by a factor of eight in the September 2020 quarter compared with the previous year.1 Each region is responding to these shared drivers of change in unique ways.
In developing this strategy, Infrastructure Victoria has built a deeper understanding of regional infrastructure needs and their impacts. Our work demonstrates the unique character of each district, and the diversity of their experiences, strengths, opportunities and challenges. We have also found that many infrastructure needs are shared. Consistent and recurring themes include inadequate digital connectivity, improvements needed for freight, public transport and the condition of roads, gaps in basic infrastructure, inadequate access to affordable housing, and the need for fit for purpose health and community facilities.
Regional Victoria’s infrastructure needs are very different to Melbourne’s. Solutions must suit local conditions and be flexible enough to cater for different communities within and across the regions — including fast-growing regional cities, peri-urban areas, small towns and rural communities. They must also consider the different demographics of different places. For example, the regions have higher proportions of Aboriginal Victorians and older people.
Infrastructure can boost economic development and strengthen the resilience of economies and communities.
Regional development is more than simply generating construction activity.
It can encourage economic growth by removing barriers to industry investment, support job creation and encourage businesses to expand. Infrastructure can also support the needs of regional communities, helping people adapt to change, enhancing their quality of life, and lessening the socioeconomic disadvantage experienced by some of Victoria’s most vulnerable communities. Regional communities face complex, intertwined opportunities and challenges. Infrastructure Victoria has worked with regional stakeholders to determine ways to better maintain, manage and develop infrastructure. We have used an evidence-based approach to identify which investments deliver better economic and social outcomes for regional Victorians.
We have focused on infrastructure investments which build on a region’s competitive strengths to help drive economic growth, or which improve local economic, human and social capital assets to reduce disadvantage.
Regional Victoria is home to relatively dispersed populations with large distances between them. This means these communities cannot always sustain the same range and diversity of services as metropolitan areas. This makes connectivity a priority for infrastructure – linking businesses to markets, transferring information and knowledge, and connecting people to services and opportunities. Good infrastructure can support innovative solutions to connect people to jobs, goods and services, and each other. Equally, it can improve connections between businesses, producers and customers, lifting productivity and enable regional industries to access domestic and global markets.