Brain drain undergoing ‘big reversal’ in SA as net interstate migration hits 30-year high

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SA is attracting more people from interstate than it is losing to the rest of the country. (ABC News: Jarrod Lucas)

Less than a year ago, Victoria’s Premier sparked a parochial war of words when he questioned South Australia’s status as a destination of choice.

“I don’t want to be offensive to South Australians, but why would you want to go there?” Daniel Andrews jibed.

In recent years, South Australia has struggled to stay in touch with its larger eastern counterparts when it comes to population growth.

It has also been in the grip of a so-called “brain drain”, with young people leaving the state to seek job prospects elsewhere.

But, according to the SA government, that trend is undergoing a “big reversal”, with factors including the coronavirus pandemic helping the state set a new benchmark.

The government said that fresh Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data showed the state’s net interstate migration had reached its highest level in almost 30 years, with the number of interstate arrivals in South Australia now exceeding the number of people leaving the state.

It also said the December quarter was the third consecutive quarter in which net interstate migration had been positive, and that 2021 was the “first time since 1992” that SA has had a full 12 months of positive net interstate migration.

“For the first time in 30 years, we’re actually attracting more people from other states to come to South Australia, rather than losing them,” Treasurer Rob Lucas said.

“Clearly at the moment, with international borders being closed, all states are not going to see population growth from international migration, so what’s left is obviously attracting people from other states to come to South Australia.

“It’s a very big reversal.”

While the overall numbers may not sound huge — there was, for example, a net gain of 130 people in the December quarter and 98 for the entirety of 2021 — Mr Lucas said they were significant, and were being driven by a combination of factors such as growth in the space and defence sectors.

“In the last 12 months, the actual numbers are around about just over a hundred to 200 additional people over and above those who actually leave,” he said.

“The comparison is actually the stark thing — in some cases, in the last 30 years, we’ve lost actually up to around about 1,000-2,000 — [per] year — people leaving South Australia in net terms to go to the other states.

“People are recognising that South Australia is the safest place in the safest country in the world in terms of handling COVID-19.”

Despite soaring house prices in Adelaide, the SA government said affordability was contributing to the trend reversal.

Source: Thanks