Cities and the regions: a growing divide? – Sydney

Australia’s economic geography is changing. Population growth and jobs are increasingly concentrated in the cities and major regional centres. And our cities have a much higher share of young people, immigrants, and people with a tertiary education. But while the cities may be more dynamic, people in the regions have higher levels of wellbeing and community participation.

This Forward Thinking event explored the widening economic and social divide between Australia’s cities and regions. What are the economic forces at play? What are the effects on the social fabric of the nation? And what if anything should governments do to bridge the divide?


Gabrielle Chan has been a journalist for more than 30 years. She has been a political journalist and politics live blogger at Guardian Australia since 2013. Prior to that, she worked at The Australian, ABC radio, the Daily Telegraph, in local newspapers and politics. Gabrielle has written and edited history books, biographies and even cookbook. The daughter of a Singaporean migrant, Gabrielle moved from the Canberra press gallery to a small country town to marry a sheep and wheat farmer in 1996 – the year Pauline Hanson was first elected to federal parliament. She became obsessed about the economic and cultural divide between the city and the country and the lives of rural people. Gabrielle is currently writing about the view of politics from the back blocks of a small town and the front stalls of the federal press gallery.

Danielle Wood is a Program Director at the Grattan Institute. Her research and advocacy efforts focus on tax and budget policy, intergenerational inequality and institutional reform. Danielle previously worked as a Principal Economist at the ACCC, a Senior Consultant at NERA Economic Consulting and as a Senior Research Economist at the Productivity Commission. She is the National and Victorian Chair of the Women in Economics Network. Danielle is currently researching the rising minor party vote in Australia, including why this vote is higher and rising faster in regional areas.