Bellingen Shire Council has undertaken a preliminary review of the recent results from the 2016 Census of Population and Housing.
The first stage results point to a 1.2 per cent population increase across the Shire between the 2011 and 2016 Census.
This growth is not evenly distributed though on either a geographical, or age basis, with population growth occurring disproportionately in the Bellingen Valley and Seaboard regions, and focused in the over 60 age demographic.
Areas such as the Dorrigo plateau continued a trend of population decline.
Bellingen Shire Mayor, Cr Dominic King sees both opportunities and challenges in the first stage information release from the Census.
“Population growth is positive in one sense for the Shire in that it can reveal a degree of confidence in living and investing in Bellingen Shire and ensuring a population base to support local businesses,” Cr King said.
“It is important though that we carefully analyse where population growth or decline is occurring and what challenges this will present for Council.’’
One of the key demographic challenges faced by Bellingen Shire is the ageing of the resident population and outward migration from age categories typically associated with sustained population growth.
For example, almost a quarter (24 per cent) of the population is now aged 65 or over compared to just under 20 per cent in 2011.
Conversely, young people continue to leave the Shire for education, employment, housing, travel and lifestyle opportunities.
Cr King said: “Council has deliberately timed the upcoming review of it’s Growth Management Strategy to coincide with the release of the Census information.
“Our community will soon be asked to help shape the direction of Bellingen’s future growth as the first stage of this project, and having access to accurate and up to date information from the Census will be of great value moving forward.”
The first stage of reviewing the Growth Management Strategy will involve the release of a Discussion Paper later this year.
To keep informed regarding this project, and all other projects undertaken by Council, visit the Create Community Engagement Hub at http://create.bellingen.nsw.gov.au.
To view the Census results, visit www.abs.gov.au and select the option ‘Census Quickstats’ then search by location and year.
Alternatively view the Community Profile on Council’s website at www.bellingen.nsw.gov.au/community/community-data. The community profile data is currently being updated with 2016 census results.