No Caption
No Caption Bill North

Innovation key to stopping decline in regional areas

INNOVATION and getting creative is the key to stopping the decline of regional areas like the Clarence Valley, according to a new campaign from the Regional Australia Institute.

The Innovation Watch project is searching to highlight community-led initiatives that entice people to live and stay in regional Austalia.

RAI spokeswoman Samantha Neal said innovation was needed to attract and capitalise on opportunities to attract people to regional towns.

"It's important for regional areas to keep their population base, and the trend we have been seeing for a while now is a lot of migration away from regional Australia," she said.

"If communities can think differently and get creative, they can turn trends around and make a positive example."

Ms Neal said the campaign was focused on uncovering within regional areas the innovative approaches they were taking to attract people to live and stay in their communities.

"It's innovation, but not in ways that are ordinarily considered innovation," she said.

"Innovation comes in many different forms, not just the white coats in labs. It's about finding new ways of doing things and thinking differently about innovation, and we want to showcase the successful examples so other regional areas can learn and hopefully adopt something that will work for them."

One example highlighted by the RAI is Albury Wodonga, which was facing a shortage of medical staff. The community developed a taskforce, which raised more than $900,000 to employ an executive officer with a background in medicine to help coordinate and support recruitment.

After first experimenting in paying for trips for interested doctors and their families to the area, the taskforce changed tactics to concentrating on attracting professionals who were already interested in relocating.

In seven years, the program had recruited over 90 GPs and specialists to the region.

Ms Neal said this was an example of innovative thinking that benefits the entire community.

"It's about the community taking action into their own hands by getting a good group together who have a different approach and can make something out of it."



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