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Revaluing Rural Australia

G. Laughlin, Dr.; telephone (02) 6272 3581; facsimile (02) 6272 4734;

Research organisation: Bureau of Rural Sciences, PO Box E11, Kingston, ACT 2604

Sponsor: Bureau of Rural Sciences (Professor Snow Barlow)


AFFA (Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Australia, formerly DPIE) - Australia administers programs that seek to improve the sustainable development of land use in rural and regional Australia, such as National Landcare, and those within Agriculture - Advancing Australia. BRS has contributed information for these initiatives and is aware that while there is a plethora of available data, these are not always converted into useful information. Sieving this data to analyse it for particular regions will aid in tracking progress for development, and to help identify particular challenges that might need consideration from government.

This project focuses on specifying biophysical, economic and social limitations as well as identifying opportunities for revaluing rural Australia. It will collect and collate data from a range of sources into a comprehensive spatial format.


  • to analyse trends of economic, environmental and social performance of Australia's rural regions through the development of innovative spatial analysis and productive techniques;
  • to provide evidence for policy developers through insightful, spatially based quantitative analysis on the potential for redevelopment and further development of Australia's rural regions.


Actions to achieve objectives during 1998-99 include:

  • a quantitative analysis of regional economic, environmental and social performance as a base for further detailed studies;
  • an assessment of change in rural Australia over the last three decades affecting productivity, and the impacts on social factors and attitudes;
  • development of efficient and effective methods for analysing the biophysical potential of identified problem regions as an aid to policy development towards their redevelopment;
  • refining and testing social impact assessment techniques and related tools;
  • undertake sieving analysis to determine degree of progress for agro-ecological regions as defined for SCARM, and
  • examining several regions for detailed case study analysis after consultation with AFFA agencies.

Examples of indicators include:

  • Index of community sensitivity to change or 'CSI' at urban centres/rural localities (ABS) or UC/RL. This is a compound index based on population characteristics, vitality, employment patterns and infrastructure provision, modified to suit the agriculture sector.
  • Index of value of agricultural commodities produced 1971-1996. Includes reference to the number of establishments in each major commodity group and area sown (for crops). Geographic level is the ABS Statistical Division.
  • Index of rainfall reliability for pasture growth, showing long-term reliability/risk for pasture phases (rainfed) within and across growing seasons.

Progress: Now underway as a BRS priority project.

Status: New project

Period: starting date 1998-07; completion date 1999-06

Publications: BRS intends to publish major findings in refereed journals



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