Sustainable Rural Communities

RCV facilitates and delivers a range of projects that deliver on our overall objective to support and promote sustainable, liveable, prosperous rural communities. Find out opportunities for your Council to be involved in these projects and read the results of this research below.

Population Attraction and Retention Strategies for Rural Victorian Communities

Rural Victorian communities face a range of opportunities and challenges in a rapidly changing world where some significant forces are at work, including:

  • Globalisation and the rise of Asia
  • Changing demographics
  • Rapidly changing technology
  • Climate change

Issues of long-term population decline, ageing and changes brought about by shifts in patterns of agricultural production and technology represent both challenges and opportunities for rural Victorian towns and regions. RCV has a clear role to play in supporting its member councils and their communities in responding to the challenges and taking advantage of the opportunities.

This report, published in July 2017, is intended to determine drivers and barriers to population attraction and retention and economic development relevant to Victorian rural communities. It will identify a priority set of initiatives for implementation over three years towards creating stronger and more sustainable rural communities.

Download the Full Report

Rural Workforce Development Plan

Between 2001 and 2016, the total number of jobs in rural Victoria has grown by 22%, or 48,676 jobs. The significant uplift in the growth in employment experienced in rural Victoria in the period 2011 to 2016 has strained the ability of the existing rural labour force to service this demand. A number of rural councils have noted that there are businesses in a range of sectors that are presently unable to meet their requirements for workers. There is a need to increase the supply of workers with the skills needed for rural based businesses.

This report, developed in partnership with Dench McClean Carlson and published in July 2018, outlines opportunities to develop the rural workforce, by highlighting industry sectors and key strategies for such development.

Download the Full Report

Population Growth in Rural Victoria – Opportunities and Actions

RCV member councils have identified that population policy is a very important issue and one that many councils have taken action to address. The limited availability of resources of individual rural councils is likely to have contributed to a lack of impact and success of these initiatives across the State, however, highlighting the need for State Government co-ordination and funding. RCV commissioned Urban Enterprise to prepare an in depth report on opportunities in area for Victoria.

Released in July 2018, this report draws on research, analysis and consultation, all of which lead to the clear conclusion that Victoria needs a population strategy and associated population targets for rural areas which are supported by a range of actions to ensure the ongoing sustainability of rural Victoria and the State as a whole.

Download an Executive Summary of the Report

Download the Full Report

Economic Impact Assessment of the Creation and Retention of Rural Jobs

RCV commissioned Crowe Horwath to conduct an economic impact assessment to quantify the relative value of jobs created or retained in rural towns. The report confirms what many of our member councils have experienced anecdotally; that the impact of any single job is magnified in a small rural community, and that the smaller the town the larger the impact. Consequently, the report also articulates the significant cost of each and every single job that is lost in a rural setting.

Download the Full Report

Rural Social Enterprise Program

The Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship (ACRE) is a not-for-profit organisation whose mission is to build a thriving rural Australia through igniting entrepreneurship in young people and their communities.

ACRE is running a series of Understanding Social Enterprise workshops across member council areas, to deliberately bring leaders from government, community, education and business together to have a new dialogue about sustainable approaches to building economic and social capital. This approach builds a new understanding of possibility in rural communities whilst activating (often for the first time) different sector leaders combining forces on projects.

The Understanding Social Enterprise learning program is a practical two-day experience that introduces learners to the objectives, values, purpose and practice of social enterprise. This facilitator led experience provides participants with the opportunity to learn about this new enterprising model that combines the best of business with clear and purposeful social aims.

The workshops explore the social enterprise concept and a number of operating models, the challenges and opportunities inherent in the model, and what the future holds for this growing movement.

Contact Donna Petrie, Program Co-ordinator, [email protected] for details on hosting a workshop in your community or to enquire where your nearest workshop is being delivered.

Further information can be found at the ACRE website.

Rural Promotion Program

At present, individual RCV member councils are attempting to promote their respective areas to potential residents, partners and/or investors. To some extent, this effort overlaps with the work of various Regional Tourism Organisations and Local Tourism Organisations as well as the work of larger regional councils.

This project encompasses a number of processes designed to optimise these efforts, including analysis of key target markets previously determined in early RCV reports, and the development of key messages, resources and collateral to support targeted campaign activity. This project also maps key events and opportunities from promotion, to best support RCV member councils to plan more collaborative and high impact activities.

Twig Marketing has delivered this program. Twig has worked with our member councils to create profiles of destinations, houses, jobs and stories of those who have relocated to the country.

These are available at

Twig Marketing has also prepared a report on the project for the benefit of member Councils.

Download the Full Report

Download the Summary Report

Services for Rural Liveability Report

There are a number of essential services required by residents of rural communities. RCV has commissioned research to understand the factors which influence service provision in rural communities, quantify which services are considered most important to residents in terms of liveability, and provide direction on alternate models of service provision.

Urban Enterprise were engaged to undertake this research which was published in August 2019.

The full report is available to download below, along with a short summary of the report findings.

Download the Full Report

Download the Summary Report

Older Persons Services and Accommodation Program

The population of people aged 65 years and older in rural Victoria is projected to grow by some 100,000 people to more than 230,000 by 2031. This will represent 15% of Victoria’s population of people and will account for 27% of rural Victoria’s population. This demographic shift necessitates the provision of critical goods and services (particularly housing and health care services) to ensure older people are able to remain in their current community, and to attract older people to make rural Victoria their home. It also creates an opportunity for rural communities to benefit from the knowledge and experience older people can provide to the community.

Verso Consulting were commissioned to undertake a needs analysis and gap analysis of services and housing currently available in rural councils, as well as analysis and promotion of opportunities for investment in potential housing or other services from private on non-profit organisations.

Download the Summary Report

Download the Full Report

Rural Investment Attraction Program

Access to economic opportunities is central to supporting population attraction and retention in rural Victoria. This includes attracting private sector investment into sectors that that enable rural areas to regenerate their respective economies and generate jobs. The size, density and growth of Victoria’s metropolitan-based economy relative to the rural economy presents a challenge to rural Victoria with respect to attracting private sector awareness. RCV member councils find it increasingly difficult to find resources to support investment attraction and/or have varying levels of experience and expertise in engaging the private sector. The scarcity of expertise, experience and resources compromises attempts to secure private sector investment.

This program will introduce mechanisms and capacity building to identify, promote and facilitate significant private sector investment opportunities in rural Victoria. This will be achieved through a collaborative approach across RCV member councils to present an attractive scale of investment to the private sector.

Dench McClean Carlson have been appointed to deliver this program, which is scheduled to be completed by December 2019.

Mapping the UN Sustainable Development Goals

RCV has commissioned the Peri-Urban Group of Rural Councils to develop a report mapping rural councils’ progress against the indicators outlined by the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs). These indicators provide an overview of performance against a series of measures contributing to health, safety, social capital and liveability.

Interim reports indicate clear gaps between Victoria’s rural councils and their metro equivalents, which provides RCV with a clear framework for areas requiring explicit focus when it comes to liveability, service delivery and investment.

This report is in its final stages and will be published in September 2019.

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