More than 400,000 people moved from Australian capital cities to regional areas in the five years to 2016, a report shows.
The size of the migration shows the federal government doesn’t need to coax new Australians to move to regional areas, according to the Regional Australia Institute.
“Many Australian residents are already looking to alternate opportunities offered in regional cities and towns,” the RIA states in its national population plan for regional Australia, released on Thursday.
“This shift is due, in part, to the challenges facing capital cities in keeping pace with improved infrastructure, increased services, and equitable access to housing.”
But the movement of people could be increased by investment in more infrastructure in regional cities and towns, the institute has recommended.
That comes as infrastructure is “strongly weighted to solving problems in capital cities”.
“Rebalancing of population-supporting infrastructure from urban fringe to regional cities will rebalance flows as well.”
In the same period, Australia’s overall population grew by more than 1.5 million.
The institute noted new migrants tended to use big capital cities as a “gateway” for living in Australia, with only one in 10 new arrivals between 2011 and 2016 settling in a regional area off the bat.
If they followed the settlement trends of other Australians, an extra 213,081 migrants would have moved to regional areas in that time.
Moving to regional areas was most popular among people aged 30 to 39 and 60 to 69.
The report comes after the government earlier this month revealed a plan to fast-track visas for skilled migrants who are willing to live in regional Australia.
Department of Home Affairs officials will also travel to regional areas to help local businesses attract more skilled workers.