Improving population retention in northern Australia: clues from German-born Territorians

Anita Maertens, Andrew Taylor

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    Background: Population growth rates in many parts of northern Australia have slowed considerably in recent years. Governments are interested in identifying northern migration ‘markets’ as potential targets for a mix of marketing and policy-based approaches to improve population attraction and retention. In the Northern Territory (NT), German-born residents present an interesting case study. Many are long-term residents (‘sticky’), highly educated, in professional jobs and say they are likely to stay.

    Aims: We profile and report on a study of German-born NT residents as one important international market for offsetting population losses. Understanding factors which have contributed to the attraction and retention of this group may help to inform policies and initiatives to improve the population position of the NT and northern Australia more broadly.Data and methods  Data for the paper is sourced from the 2016 ABS Census of Population and Housing (Census) and the 2017 German Territorian Survey (GTS) conducted by Charles Darwin University.

    Results: German-born residents are a relatively immobile (‘sticky’) and educated population group in the NT with a high ratio of females. Many of those surveyed, in particular those who had arrived as working holiday makers or tourists, exhibited little or no intention of leaving. Lifestyle factors, climate and job opportunities ranked highly in decisions to stay.

    Conclusions: The study of German-born Territorians holds promise for developing targetted niche migration initiatives to address skills and population deficits in the NT and northern Australia. Analysis of responses to the GTS highlighted opportunities for recruiting skilled women and the importance of tourism as a source for labour supply and population growth.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)39–51
    Number of pages13
    JournalAustralian Population Studies
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2018


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