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Word of mouth recommendations key to tree change decisions, study finds

A study by Rural Councils Victoria has shown that while councils were key influencers in the decision for people to relocate to regional areas, recommendations by friends, family and others were also likely to influence decision making.

BRONWYN BEYERS January 24, 2013 4:36am

Friends, relatives and real estate agents are thought to have the biggest influence on urban people who are considering relocating to rural and regional Victoria.

Rural Councils Victoria undertook a research project which looked at what rural councils were doing individually or in regional groups to address population growth.

Rural Councils Victoria executive member Cr Rob Gersch said the Rural Migration Trends and Drivers project showed while councils were the key influencers involved in initiatives aimed at attracting population growth, friends, relatives and real estate agents were likely to have a strong influence on the reasons people chose to live in country Victoria.

‘‘It also showed that many councils rely on tourism events to attract people to their area but that these events are not seen as players in attracting people to the area to live,’’ he said.

‘‘In actual fact, visitors attending a country festival often visit family or friends while they are there and it’s what these people tell and show the visitors that can be pivotal in them considering moving to the area.’’

As well as finding ways to involve these people, the report proposes the establishment of an online information hub which contains local employment and other relevant information in one place, for people looking to move to regional Victoria.

‘‘This could be really useful for people wanting to do their research before they head to a country area to explore the opportunities,’’ Cr Gersch said.

‘‘Currently people thinking about relocating don’t have a way of finding all the information they need about schools, employment, rental properties and sporting or community groups in one spot.’’

The report also said rural councils could place more emphasis on supporting existing local leaders and entrepreneurs to build their businesses and industries, especially in relation to the opportunities a highly globalised knowledge economy provides.

Rural Councils Victoria is a network of the state’s 38 rural councils which acts as the liaison between the rural councils and State and Commonwealth governments, industry and community groups and regional advisory bodies and planning committees.

RCV is funded to deliver projects in rural councils by the Victorian government under the Networked Rural Councils program.

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