Updated: May 22, 2019
Mark Burdack, the Chair of the Western Research Institute met with the Minister for Small Business, The Honourable Michael McCormack MP, on a recent visit to Parliament House in Canberra to discuss the data needs of inland communities.
The Federal Government has attempted to develop a data collection and reporting scheme that differentiates inland, coastal and metropolitan communities at a number of times over the last decade, but none of the classification schemes has been maintained.
Mr Burdack expressed concern to the Minister that the current system of lumping all rural and regional communities together for national data analysis creates a risk of missing key differences between different parts of rural and regional Australia.
He cited a recent report that found that while doctor numbers had increased in rural and regional Australia in aggregate, this was largely due to doctors moving to coastal areas and not inland communities.
"The lack of ability to differentiate at a national level between different parts of rural and regional Australia means that we are unable to determine if public policy is working effectively in all rural areas, and can lead to poor public policy outcomes" said Mr Burdack.
The Western Research Institute, through its recently launched Inland Research Trust, is working to revive an inland/coastal classification scheme as a national level to improve data reporting on policy outcomes and to support new research into regional development policy.