Building Population Resilience in Tasmania: The Pandemic and Beyond
Despite Tasmania’s relative insulation from the worst of the pandemic, COVID-19 has served to create and exacerbate challenges to life in Tasmania. It has also revealed opportunities. As the size, composition and geographic distribution of the Tasmanian population is impacted, the Tasmanian Department of State Growth has commissioned this research to inform its update of Tasmania’s Population Strategy. The report addresses the following key questions:
- In light of the revised population projections, what are the likely key influences over the next five years, ten years and beyond?
- What changes arose through 2020/2021 and amid COVID-normal that impact liveability in Tasmania?
- How might Tasmania best leverage opportunities that have arisen out of the pandemic to retain residents and attract migrants from interstate and overseas to sustain the population and support growth?
- In the context of above, are the three pillars of Tasmania’s Population Growth Strategy – job creation and workforce development, migration, and liveability – still fit for purpose? How might they need to be adapted?
To address these questions, we first examine changes to Tasmania’s population size and composition over the past decade and actual and projected impacts of the pandemic on Tasmania’s population (Chapter 2). Overall, Tasmania’s population increased by only about 1,000 people (or 0.18%) in the first 1.5 years of the pandemic, and some projections estimate that Tasmania’s population will be 3.5% lower than if COVID-19 had not occurred. Chapter 2 also examines economic conditions in Tasmania over the past decade relative to Australia and considers how these may affect population projections. While gaps between Australia and Tasmania in terms of the unemployment rate, wages, and per capita Gross Domestic Product and Gross State Product have been slowly narrowing over the past decade, there is limited evidence that economic conditions have directly affected population change in Tasmania.
The recent increase in interstate departures and decrease in interstate arrivals may be driven by cost of living, especially for housing and health care. This suggests that the standard of living has been decreasing in Hobart compared to all Australia’s capital cities combined, most notably since 2018. We also examine liveability in Tasmania (Chapter 3) – in particular, the factors that help and hinder the attraction and retention of Tasmanian residents – as well as trends in liveability arising from the pandemic. The pandemic has led to several changes in the way many people live their lives and the amenities and infrastructure they utilise (e.g., increased work from home and decreased peak hour public transport demand). While the way in which people access essential services may change (e.g., with the advent of telehealth), there are still several essential services in Tasmania for which demand needs to be better met to increase liveability, including housing, childcare, aged care and healthcare. There are core subjective elements to liveability, such that only the individual can decide what they like about where they live and, ultimately, whether to stay. Chapter 4 examines the opinions of Tasmanian and mainland residents about life in Tasmania. Main concerns for the future among Tasmanian residents include health, life satisfaction, housing and income. In terms of external perceptions, mainland Australians associate Tasmania with the natural environment and lifestyle the most, and entertainment, arts and culture, and the economy and labour market the least.
Publication titleResearch Report for the Department of State Growth
Commissioning bodyInstitute for Social Change, University of Tasmania
Department/SchoolSchool of Creative Arts and Media
PublisherInstitute for Social Change, University of Tasmania
Place of publicationTasmania, Australia
Rights statementCopyright 2022 the authors