Report on the future of regional Australia

Frieda Lee, 21st March 2022
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In March 2022, the Select Committee on Regional Australia concluded its inquiry into the future of regional Australia and published its report.

Back in 2019, the CBAA made a submission to the Select Committee on Regional Australia’s Inquiry into Regional Australia. We highlighted the vital contribution community radio stations make to regional Australian communities, particularly in emergencies or times of hardship. We outlined the challenges of operating in regional Australia and explained the need for greater funding to ensure sector sustainability and viability.

The inquiry has recently concluded and the Committee has published its report: Pride of Place: Inquiry into the future of Regional Australia. The report makes recommendations on improving the liveability of regional areas through access to services, better infrastructure, support for business and planning.

The following findings are most relevant to our sector:

Regional connectivity

The report examines the ongoing frustration with connectivity and infrastructure in regional communities and recommends that a nationwide Regional Development Plan be developed to consider the current and future infrastructure needs of regional Australia, with focus areas including telecommunications and internet connectivity. The CBAA plans to discuss the development of the plan in our regular meetings with the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications to help ensure that the infrastructure needs of our sector are included in the plan.

Volunteerism

The Committee found that, "Engaged, connected communities are the result of dedicated everyday Australians—people who contribute and people who also know that the community to which they belong will, in turn, look after them. Community is about strength in numbers, shared purpose, giving back and staying strong together. Australia is home to many strong, resilient regional communities that have formed organically—but can also benefit from government support."

The report also explores the importance of regional community groups and volunteers. It found that the voluntary work performed by “dedicated everyday Australians” contributes to the strength and resilience of regional communities. The report references the CBAA's submission, highlighting the critical role that volunteers play in the community broadcasting sector.

We were pleased with the report’s finding that community-driven services and programs could benefit from government support.

However, we were disappointed with the recommendations accompanying this finding. The Committee only recommended that regional community groups be able to receive tax-deductible gift recipient status more easily. They did not address the broader support needs of regional community groups, including community broadcasters.

The CBAA has been working with the Department and politicians in the lead up to the Federal Election to build support for an additional $5 million to be distributed directly to community radio stations via Community Broadcasting Foundation grants. We will be pointing to the findings of the report as we continue our advocacy efforts.

Our 2019 submission can be accessed on our Submissions Page.

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