Liz Ritchie CEO, Regional Australia Institute (RAI)
For nearly 10 years, the RAI has worked tirelessly to gather the best knowledge and research to play our part in building a prosperous future for Regional Australia. However, last week I was asked to step back 20 years, to assess where I was in life and the expectations I had for myself. While this was a moment of personal reflection, I couldn’t help but think about this question through the eyes of our regions. Twenty years ago, I was 21 years old and had just returned home from university to take up the role as the very first Festival Director of the Deniliquin Ute Muster. What I learnt in that year has stayed with me forever and it is why I am so humbled to hold this position today. Back then, Deniliquin was in the grips of a devastating drought. Our passionate community rallied to ask a simple question – how can we put Deniliquin on the map? Ultimately, it came down to three elements: A big vision; a bold idea; and innumerable beating hearts full of passion. This afternoon, I am honoured to join the National Farmers' Federation, the Business Council of Australia, and Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia at the National Press Club in Canberra, to help launch the Regionalisation Agenda paper. Regionalisation is a vision for our country – it is an ambition for our future as a nation. A nation that is more balanced, equitable, sustainable and prosperous. At the RAI, Regionalisation is at the core of why we exist. On Monday, we launched new research showing one in five city residents are looking to relocate to the regions, with more than half wanting to move to ‘live their best life’ in the next 12 months. While this gave us the evidence we needed to identify the ‘push’ factors of potential city movers (traffic congestion, housing prices and stress), what was most interesting was that the appeal of regional life is a stronger motivator to move than any dissatisfaction with city life. This market research underpins the creative development of our National Campaign, which we are thrilled to be launching in just over 3 weeks at our National Summit in Canberra, Growing Regional Australia - Shaping the Good Life. While tickets are selling very quickly, I am pleased to inform you that livestream tickets are now on sale for those unable to travel to the nation’s capital on 17-18 March. I must extend a heartfelt thanks to those around the country who have helped to shape our Liveability Toolkit which we will be unveiled at our Masterclass on Day 2 of our Summit. This has been developed to assist regional leaders to attract and retain new residents. Our Masterclass will provide attendees with expert advice about how to use the Toolkit and what it means for your own community. And finally, next week we will be sending all Summit ticketholders information about the Policy Hack - please watch your emails! We look forward to seeing many of you in Canberra next month! Until then, stay safe and stay connected.