COLLABORATION

Partnership brings regional Australia into media spotlight

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Future Focus hopes to stop common misconceptions about regional Australia's lack of vibrancy and highlight the many work, life & education options it has to offer.

A new website and magazine series focused on the growth potential of regional Australia has been launched by Australian Community Media (ACM), the country’s leading independent regional and rural media business.

The result of a partnership between ACM, the University of New England and technology giant Dell Australia, Future Focus aims to drive discussion on issues such as employment, education and lifestyle opportunities in regional Australia.

The idea is to bring attention and drive economic development to Australia’s lesser populated regional areas, which are currently home to some eight million Australians, or a third of the country’s total population. 

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Australia is commonly referred to as one of the most urbanised countries on the planet. This means the country is no stranger to the effects of urbanisation, which among others include a concentration of the population in its capital cities.

According to UN data, in 2015, some 89.4 percent of the country’s population were living in urban areas. It was estimated then that the figure would rise to 90.6 percent by 2025. 

But rich in diversity and a significant driver of the national economy with its contributions making up two-thirds of the country’s export earnings, regional Australia is growing in popularity and economic activity. The Australian Bureau of Statistics now estimate that the population outside the capital cities will have grown by 26 percent come 2026.

Through a series of quarterly magazines and its website, the Future Focus project will support this trend by celebrating the region’s potential and publicising national efforts to decentralise development.

“We aim to challenge regional leaders and change-makers to consider what decisions must be made, what policies and actions implemented, to ensure we build a prosperous and connected economy that is both inclusive and sustainable,” the publication says in its About Us section.

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Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack wrote the introduction to first edition of the magazine.

In it, he extolled the benefits of life outside Australia’s capital cities, saying:

“Clean air. Plenty of space. Wonderful people. Why would you want to live and work anywhere else?”

“You are 10 minutes from anywhere in town, which is so important when trying to strike the balance between work and life – it means more time for you and your family and less on congested roads,” he adds.

According to Media Week, the magazine is being carried in all 14 of ACM’s daily newspapers, including The Canberra Times and Newscastle Herald, along with agricultural weeklies The Land, Queensland Country Live and Stock and Land in Victoria. 

“This project strives to focus attention on the opportunities that abound beyond the big cities, the policies and strategies needed to maximise the potential of regional, rural and suburban Australia and how we make sure prosperity is delivered in a balanced and sustainable way,” ACM’s chief executive officer Allen Williams said. 

“With the support of our launch partners Dell and the University of New England, we are proud to lead this important national conversation.”

Formerly part of Fairfax Media, ACM has more than 160 news brands publishing both online and in print formats, as well as national network spanning every state and territory across Australia.