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

Alternative sources of income for local government

SGS Economics and Planning were engaged by RCV to determine if rural councils could further support their communities by finding alternative income streams. The national and international review of potential alternative sources of funding found there is “no silver bullet” that can boost council incomes. Rural councils need to be supported by other levels of government.

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Rural Victoria Housing Blueprint

RCV commissioned a comprehensive analysis of rural housing markets in Victoria and determined that more than 87,000 additional dwellings will be required in rural Victoria over 15 years. Housing remains a key advocacy issue for the Rural Councils Victoria Committee.

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Fixing Country Roads evaluation project

RCV initiated this evaluation to inform its engagement with the State Government on the outcomes the Fixing Country Roads (FCR) Program and to date and support rural councils to participate and maximise the benefits for their communities from FCR grants.

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Working for Victoria program assessment

RCV conducted an independent review of the Working for Victoria program in rural councils. The purpose of the review was to understand the benefits of the program and any areas for improvement from both the perspective of councils and participants, and to develop a series of recommendations to assist rural councils in developing workforce attraction strategies in the future.

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Demographic Destiny: Opportunities for rural Victoria in the post-pandemic era 

A report by renown demographer Bernard Salt AM. It draws on census and other sources to develop and evidence-based narrative around the prospects for rural councils in the post-covid era (2021-2031).

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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 delivered 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 was designed to build a new understanding of possibility in rural communities whilst activating (often for the first time) different sector leaders combining forces on projects.

Download the Program Summary Report

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.

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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

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Rural Investment Attraction Program

Rural Councils Victoria’s Investment Attraction Program began in December 2018, conducted by Dench McClean Carlson. The program sought to develop greater investment attraction capability within RCV Councils, which will ultimately lead to employment growth supporting the retention of the existing population as well as attracting new residents, and developing improved services, facilities and opportunities for rural residents.

Stage one workshops and interviews took place throughout 2019, identifying the state of investment attraction across the RCV network and getting feedback from RCV members, Regional Development Victoria (RDV) and investors from the private sector.

The findings of Stage One fed into the Needs and Opportunities Report, covering topics such as how to develop a value proposition, how to identify investment opportunities and potential investors and how to manage investor enquiries.

The recently completed Investment Attraction Workshops sought to link the findings of the initial interviews and Needs and Opportunities Report, helping participants to develop a tailored ‘Investment Attraction Action Plan’ with the specific investment opportunities and industry strengths of their councils and regions in mind.

Well done to John Stevens and Adrian Kennelly from Dench McClean Carlson for running these workshops successfully. Participants were a mix of Councilors, Executive Managers, Senior Managers and Council Officers, and here are some samples of the overwhelmingly positive feedback on the workshops:

Thank you so much for the Investment Training workshops….As I’m using to working in an urban setting and I’m new to working in rural Victoria, it was a steep learning curve for me. I found it very interesting and very relevant to my new role.

A great initiative that helps to get the conversation around investment facilitation going and to ensure it’s a priority in rural Victoria for LGAs and RDV.

Food manufacturing, aged care services and large scale horticulture were three industries identified in the workshops as having greater investment potential throughout rural areas. RCV will now examine ways in which it can work with government agencies such as Agriculture Victoria and RDV to facilitate further investment attraction activity, which will ultimately lead to greater investment and jobs growth for our communities.

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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