MDBA study shows economic decline

By Country News

Most towns in northern Victoria and the southern Riverina have suffered from a declining workforce during a 15-year period, with Shepparton the only town of nine in the area where the overall workforce has increased.

That is according to a series of community profiles released by Murray-Darling Basin Authority, which show socio-economic trends across basin communities.

The profiles are part of the work the authority is doing to analyse the reasons for social and economic changes that basin communities have experienced between 2001 and 2016 which they aim to release in full in April 2018.

Of the communities Country News looked at, Shepparton was the only town where the overall workforce increased, and it was one of just four areas — along with Cobram, Kerang-Cohuna and Kyabram-Tatura — where population increased during the 15-year period.

‘‘The community profiles released outline the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, combined with water recovery data for each community — however they do not yet capture the full story, and need to be interpreted with care,’’ MDBA chief executive Phil Glyde said.

‘‘While the basin economy as a whole has continued to grow steadily over the past five years, we know that there are some communities in the basin that have been doing it tough.’’

The ABS data shows that many basin communities are experiencing similar socio-economic trends regardless of the amount of water recovery in those communities.

‘‘There are also social and economic trends and pressures that precede the basin plan, many of which are affecting rural and regional communities more broadly, such as the increasing mechanisation of agriculture, droughts, population change and changes in the economic diversity of communities,’’ Mr Glyde said.