Melbourne’s population is decreasing as international students and metropolitan people leave

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Before the epidemic, Melbourne was one of the world’s fastest-growing advanced cities, according to Marcus Spiller, a founder of SGS Economics & Planning. He anticipated the trend to resume in a comfortable manner.

“Population growth signifies, at one level, that people have got confidence in the future of a city and its economy, and [are] willing to back that,” he added. “People don’t flock to cities that don’t have a future.”

However, economist Saul Eslake believes that Australia’s and Victoria’s tough stance on COVID-19 has harmed the country’s reputation and may dissuade people from relocating to Melbourne, which was historically more reliant on local and international migration and was the city worst hit by the epidemic.

Mr Eslake said that Victoria’s rapid population expansion was masking the state’s dismal economic performance.

“It’s become so dependent on population growth, when you take that out, Victoria actually has a problem.”

According to the ABS, the Australian suburbs with the highest and quickest population reductions last year were all in greater Melbourne, where the CBD’s population fell by 5900 persons, or 11%. This was mostly due to 5700 city inhabitants relocating abroad.

The neighborhoods closest to Melbourne’s major universities saw the highest population reductions. Clayton, in the southeast, saw a population loss of 2700 individuals, or 9.4%. The population of inner-city Carlton, which has a strong foreign student population, fell by 2600 people, or 10%.

Another 33,501 persons relocated to the suburbs or other major cities from Melbourne. Victoria’s population increased by 1%, or 15,700 individuals, outside of Melbourne.

Beidar Cho, the ABS head of demographics, said it was the first time the population of Australia’s remote areas rose faster than that of the big cities.

Melbourne's population is decreasing as international students and metropolitan people leave

Outer-suburban areas increased as well. Cranbourne East, in the south-east, saw a population increase of 5000 people. Mount Cottrell, in the outer west, saw a 34% rise in population, while Yuroke, near Mickleham, in the north, saw a 28% increase.

Before the epidemic, international students made up 38% of the CBD’s population and 39% of Carlton’s residents, according to Lord Mayor Sally Capp.

“We know our closed borders meant many international students could not make it to Australia to begin their studies, or were forced to make the difficult decision between their education and their families at home,” Cr Capp said.

Since international borders opened in mid-December, nearly 27,000 foreign students have returned to Victoria, according to Dr. Peter Hurley of the Mitchell Institute. At its lowest point in December, the state had just 68,000 international student visa holders, down from 180,000 before the epidemic.

Melbourne City Council has been offering stamp duty rebates on new residential properties worth under $1 million that have been on the market for more than a year to help entice people back to the CBD. Prior to the federal and Victorian elections, Cr Capp indicated the council will continue to press state and federal administrations.

Mr Coates, who believes that initiatives to repopulate the CBD would be mostly fruitless, believes that regional expansion will be determined by the future of remote work.

“The shift appears somewhat permanent,” he added. “The world has changed.”

Kim Houghton, chief economist at the Regional Australia Institute, said regional growth has established a long-term trend.

“It helps to explain the rental shortages and house price increases in regional Victoria,” he added.

There was also a rise in company growth, according to Dr. Houghton, yet there were 72,500 employment openings across regional Australia. “There’s a massive shortage of bodies on the ground.”

The Surf Coast Shire recorded the highest percentage gain in rural Victoria, with 4.4 percent growth for the year, resulting in 1517 additional inhabitants.

The population of Geelong increased by 1.8 percent, or 4725 people. With 1,386 new residents, the Bass Coast Shire increased by 3.7 percent.

Peter Ghin, a research researcher at Melbourne University’s Future of Work Lab, said the results showed the coast was still attracting people.

He responded, “They confirm our exodus to the coastline.”

Dr Ghin, on the other hand, stated that even tiny areas like Mansfield Shire, which added 268 people last year, were experiencing the effects of the population growth.

“That makes a massive difference to a small community like that,” he said. “That’s not a natural increase.”

According to a spokeswoman for the Victorian government, the state’s budget update forecasts growth to pick up this year and increase towards the middle of the decade.

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