Many ways to measure

August 08, 2017

Census figures should establish areas for opportunity, service provision and areas of need in Greater Shepparton.

The latest population findings for Greater Shepparton drawn from last year’s census are unlikely to be totally surprising to many Sheppartonians.

Economics group .id has dissected much of the data from the census and parcelled it together for Greater Shepparton City Council to present a clearer picture of the city.

That it has a higher percentage of people above 50 than Victoria overall will unlikely be significantly out of step with expectations.

Similarly, the significantly smaller proportion of people between the ages of 20 to 50 locally than across the state is unlikely to be overly surprising.

That many young people need to leave Greater Shepparton for university studies is likely a factor here, given the fewer course options available locally.

It is fairly clear this leads to people setting up lives in other places.

This data also appears to reinforce the label the city has recently been identified as a ‘‘slow and steady’’ grower, according to reports on the nation’s small cities and regional centres.

As part of this discussion, the point has been made that population isn’t the only way to measure growth, and especially not the sort of growth many areas want.

It has instead been suggested addressing social issues and unemployment would perhaps be better metrics on which to measure the progress of a region like Greater Shepparton.

The author of a recent small cities report handed down by the Regional Australia Institute also recently highlighted the importance of a variety of professional opportunities offered in a region, to help ensure people don’t ‘‘move out of regional cities because the next level of job isn’t there’’.

Perhaps this is an area Greater Shepparton could look to address from some of the localised data being fleshed out.

It will be interesting to see how the city uses the updated data, along with what we already know about the city, to build paths forward and fill in gaps in opportunity, service provision and areas of need.

As more localised data on the region comes to light during the coming weeks, no doubt will we get a clearer idea of where some of these opportunities lie.

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