The RAPAD region has the potential to deliver an annual output of $1.5 billion in Gross Value Added (GVA) by 2031.

The RAPAD region boasts one of the most dispersed populations in the country, with roughly 12,000 people spread across an area of more than 320,000 square kilometres. Despite unique challenges – from remoteness to variable climate – the region has the potential to enter a period of high economic growth through to 2031.  

As a whole, the region is expected to grow 2.8% per annum compared to the 1.9% per annum achieved over the last decade, with key industries like those of agriculture, tourism and services aligned to global trends. 

 Overall, the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) modelling indicates the collective RAPAD region has the potential to deliver an annual output of $1.5 billion in Gross Value Added (GVA) by 2031. Focusing on key strategic priorities and commitment to a long-term vision will be vital to achieving these gains.

 The region’s major industry of agriculture, in particular beef and sheep production, will be a major driver of this growth. Nevertheless, agriculture alone will not deliver the region’s full potential.

Collectively, industries like tourism, public services (education, health, and public administration), construction and IT will contribute the biggest share to future economic growth.

 In both 2008 and 2013, the average productivity of the RAPAD region was more than 28% higher than the Australian average. Traditionally low levels of unemployment and specialisations in agriculture, wholesale, civil engineering construction and recreation services jobs have formed the basis for a healthy labour force. 

 The digital revolution has been a catalyst for disruption and the job market of 2031 is likely to be very different to what we see now. In particular, low skilled jobs and even some high skilled but routine jobs are likely to fade away, while new jobs requiring new skills are likely to be created. On average, RAI modelling shows that 37.5 per cent of jobs within the RAPAD region are at risk of digital disruption. The challenge for RAPAD regions will be how they adapt to race ahead with technology, rather than against it, prioritising development in digital and higher order skills.

 Other challenges, like a growing older population will require the region to address issues such as the location of age-specific services, while climate change will continue to have disproportionate effects on sparsely populated areas like the RAPAD region, which are dependent on industries such as agriculture. Working proactively to mitigate these challenges and building on the region’s strengths will be crucial.

 In order to achieve the potential growth outlined above, RAPAD will need to focus its efforts on strategic priorities aligned with regional planning and capacity building to support the economy’s growth. Focusing the region’s energy on investment in major and emerging growth industries and upskilling across the region will be vital.

 This work has focused on six priorities for the RAPAD region – however, these are not the only priorities. They should be seen as priority investments in a suite of strategic activities undertaken in the region. 

 This report identifies key actions in relation to the six priorities that will be the first step to unlocking the RAPAD regions long-term growth prospects. 

The Pathfinder report was funded by the Queensland Governments Department of State Development.

Read the Pathfinder Report here