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Why do people move to the Northern Territory? Why do they leave? Dr Tom Wilson School for Social and Policy Research Charles Darwin University. Background High rates of migration turnover in the NT costs for business; loss of expertise; sense of history. Background
Why do they leave?
Dr Tom Wilson
School for Social and Policy Research
Charles Darwin University
High rates of migration turnover in the NT
costs for business; loss of expertise; sense of history
Over last 20 years net migration has averaged zero
i.e. all population increase in NT has come from natural increase (births – deaths)
Need to understand the drivers of migration in order to inform policy.
ARC Linkage Project with NT Treasury and ABS, 2005-08,
investigating the patterns and processes of migration to and from the NT.
Computer Assisted Telephone Interview Survey
In-depth semi-structured interviews
Postal survey of migration
Studies of certain professional groups
Role of organisations clearly important
Many different types of organisation:
defence force law firms
Commonwealth Government administration
telecommunications companies national retailers
Australia Post the federal police major banks
television companies insurance companies
customs tourism operators airlines
real estate agencies accountancy firms
construction companies mining companies
For those who moved as couples/families, migration to the NT is dominated by factors associated with the male partner’s job.
14% of male participants stated that they moved for their partner’s job
25% of females reported that their own job was the main reason for moving
Did anyone assist you with relocation expenses when you moved to the Territory?
Would you have moved to the Territory without this support?
Only in a minority of cases.
The in-depth interviews showed that moving to the Territory provided the opportunity for career advancement and a greater breadth of experience.
Higher pay sometimes played a role in the decision-making process, but for many migrants to the NT higher pay was intimately bound up in a general desire for career advancement and satisfaction
We had a 3000 km long-distance relationship so I moved to be closer to my partner.
to live near relatives … to be with my son up here …
to watch my grandchildren grow up …
I came for a holiday, met a girl, and stayed ….
Our children live here. We were getting older and couldn’t count on our neighbours to take care of us.
I came to the Territory on my way around Australia and met my husband
to get away from my family…
One fifth of moves motivated by personal relationships
the laid back lifestyle…
… for the weather and the fishing
… to escape the big city rat race … fishing and hunting
we can always do things outdoors…
more peaceful and community minded…
a quieter place to live… it’s an easy lifestyle
I like the outdoors lifestyle – camping, fishing, motor biking and four-wheel driving…
Some moved to the NT primarily for the lifestyle. The word ‘lifestyle’ can cover many things, and survey participants mentioned:
Some survey participants mentioned “returning home”.
Not really a reason for migration as such, but it is a reminder that many movers to the NT are returnees.
48% of participants in the CATI who moved to the NT 1997-2006 had lived in the NT before (either because they are NT-born or had moved to the NT before)
These answers demonstrate feelings of place attachment, or ‘moorings’ to the NT
I came to visit my cousins and only meant to stay for a short time
We were travelling around Australia and stopped to earn some money
Came for a holiday and liked it
The Territory’s where the van broke down
I was travelling round Australia, got to Alice, and thought ‘this is the place to stay’
We came for a holiday and liked it so much we never returned to Tasmania
Came on a visit and stayed
Many people move to the NT with the intention of moving out after some period
* Non-Indigenous adults who moved to the NT between 1997 and 2006
* Non-Indigenous adults who moved to the NT between 1997 and 2006 stating they intended to stay for less than 10 years
Dissatisfaction with opportunities in NT public service: “I felt that the NT public service was not interested in developing people of my age”
Reluctant move south for husband’s career
Unpleasant working environment at one particular hospitality workplace
Unfulfilling work in medical field: “they were doing practices that were out of the 1970s”
“I got pregnant and wanted to make sure that my baby grew up with my sister and her family near us, so that’s when I decided to move”
“I wanted the kids to know their cousins and aunties so we moved for family reasons”
“Both of us are lucky to have our parents alive down south, but they’re in their 80s. There was a strong pull to be back closer to them”
“Too bloody hot”
“Don’t like the cyclone season”
“I want to go somewhere where it gets cold”
Retiree wanted to do lots of gardening in retirement. “The build-up was getting to me. October, November, December was just so bloody uncomfortable”
“Had enough of the heat”
* Non-Indigenous adults stating they intended to leave within 10 years
* Non-Indigenous adults stating they intended to leave within 10 years who answered ‘yes’ or ‘maybe’ to the question about something persuading them to stay
“Income for teachers is higher here but it’s going backwards because of the cost of living”
“a better job opportunity or a promotion”
“if the perks and allowances were reinstated”
“I would stay if I got an increase in salary”
“if I got a little more respect from my employer”
“if I could get more work in Darwin I would definitely think about staying”
“If the schooling was up to scratch”
“If CDU had better social science I might stay”
“If I could complete my studies here”
“being able to access better education opportunities”
“better standard of education for the kids”
It is never due to just one “factor”.
Individual and family move/stay decisions are made within a wider context that encompasses
Decisions of companies/organisations
Needs of other family members
The size, structure & operation of the NT economy is key to understanding migration to and from the Territory.
Types of industry
Employment practices of major employers
(e.g. fixed term contracts, postings, etc.)
Even for people who are motivated to move for non-economic reasons, the availability of employment is often a facilitating factor.
NT Mobility Project is moving towards a better understanding of migration to & from the NT
Also helpful to understand, in the context of so much mobility, why some people reside in the NT long-term
Can migration turnover be reduced through policy intervention? Possibly slightly. Maybe better to:
accept high migration turnover but manage it better
focus on increasing the size of the NT economy
maintain high fertility rates
Projection assumptions – status quo scenario
Under a status quo scenario
considerable population growth
But projections are very uncertain for the NT
much depends on economic growth & interstate competition for workers
fertility could fall
overseas migration could drop