Victoria claws back migration deficit from South-East Queensland
When Victor noticed the reversal of a migration trend we’ve come to expect in recent years (the outflow of migration from Victoria to South-East Queensland) – he thought he’d dig a little deeper to find out what’s behind that change.
Jump ahead: Learn more about migration in your area
Recently, we’ve been updating our migration maps for Local Government Areas (LGAs) with 2016 Census data. As shown in the example for the Shire of Yarra Ranges, below, these maps display the major net migration flows for an LGA in the last intercensal period.
Image 1. Migration map, Shire of Yarra Ranges
Migration patterns are one of the most important drivers of population change at the local and regional level. The movement of people between different areas helps us to understand the relationship between changing demographic profiles and the roles that areas play within a broader regional setting.
An interesting trend we’ve tracked is the steady decline in net interstate migration from Victoria to Queensland since the early 1990s.
In this blog, I’ll take a closer look at changing migration flows between Victorian LGAs and the South-East Queensland (SEQ) region from 2011 to 2016, compared to the previous census period.
Where does migration data come from?
As with our LGA migration maps, the data in this blog is based on answers to the census question, ‘Where did the person usually live five years ago?’.
This dataset carries some obvious limitations, namely that it does not capture multiple moves made by a person within a five-year period. An earlier blog lists some other caveats of using census data to track migration.
Despite these shortcomings, the data does provide us with a broad picture of changing migration patterns between Victorian LGAs and South-East Queensland over the past two censuses.
Migration flow between Victoria and South-East Queensland – what has changed?
For our purposes, I have defined South-East Queensland as ten adjacent LGAs with a combined 2016 Usual Resident population of 3,153,962 – Brisbane (C), Gold Coast (C), Ipswich (C), Lockyer Valley (R), Logan (C), Moreton Bay (R), Redland (C), Scenic Rim (R), Somerset (R) and Sunshine Coast (R).
In net terms, Victoria continues to lose population to this region. However, the loss has decreased over the last five years.
From 2011 to 2016 Victoria recorded a modest net loss of 180 people to South-East Queensland, a significant reduction from the 3,314 people it lost in the 2006-2011 period (Table 1).
Table 1. Net migration flow from Victoria to South-East Queensland, 2011-2016 compared to 2006-2011
Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016 and 2011.
Different areas, different migration patterns
It is interesting to examine how this pattern has played out spatially across Victoria for the last two census periods.
The chart below compares net migration to South-East Queensland across different types of Victorian LGAs.
Chart 1. Spatial pattern in net migration from different Victorian LGA (types) to South-East Queensland, 2006-2011 and 2011-2016
Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016 and 2011
Despite the overall decline in net out-migration of people from Victoria to South-East Queensland between 2011 and 2016, the loss has steadily increased in LGAs that lie beyond the CBD and established suburbs of Melbourne.
Victoria’s six metropolitan growth councils, along with its peri-urban LGAs and major regional cities, collectively saw a greater net loss of residents in the most recent census period, compared to 2006-2011.
Rural parts of Victoria, which had recorded an almost net neutral migration flow in the 2011 census, went on to lose 540 people to South East Queensland by 2016.
So what’s going on in Melbourne?
The stand-out trend in this chart is the complete reversal of the migration relationship between Melbourne’s established suburbs and South-East Queensland in the last census period.
Between 2006 and 2011, suburban LGAs had a net migration loss of 2,286 in population to South-East Queensland. By contrast, in the subsequent 5-year period the same areas gained 1,676 people from South East Queensland.
2016 data reveals that the turnaround in the suburban migration profile is predominantly driven by a greater inflow of migrants from South-East Queensland to Melbourne suburbs (+3,600), rather than a decrease in people moving in the opposite direction (-362).
It also shows that the innermost suburban LGAs are increasingly proving the top destinations for migrants arriving from South-East Queensland.
As shown in chart 2, between the last two census periods the Cities of Yarra, Moreland, Stonnington, Darebin, Maribyrnong, Port Phillip, Boroondara and Moonee Valley all recorded marked increases in the number of inbound migrants from SEQ. Of these LGAs, only Moreland saw a significant change in the volume of people moving the other way.
Chart 2. In-migration to suburban LGAs from South-East Queensland, change from 2006-2011 to 2011-2016
Source: ABS Census of Population and Housing, 2016 and 2011.
Further, Maribyrnong, Moonee Valley and Glen Eira, all of which recorded net losses to South-East Queensland between 2006 and 2011, went on to gain population from that region in the following five-year period.
The growth in migration to the inner city of Melbourne is also reflected in the CBD itself. Once again, this has far more to do with an increase in in-migration than any reduction in the outflow.
Between 2006-2011 and 2011-2016 the number of people leaving the City of Melbourne LGA for South-East Queensland grew by 99, while an additional 442 people migrated from SEQ to Melbourne’s business and cultural hub.
Why is Victoria wrestling back migrants?
Of course, the dominance of the CBD and inner suburbs in attracting interstate migrants is not particularly surprising. After all, it seems unlikely that someone would make the big move down from Brisbane or the Gold Coast to live in outer-suburban or regional areas, which do not hold the same lifestyle attractions that set central Melbourne apart.
But why is this trend more pronounced now? Admittedly, the numbers we’re looking at here are relatively small in the bigger picture of interstate migration, however, they do point to a subtle shift in the profile of migrant flows.
The recent decline in Victoria’s net migration loss to South-East Queensland is explained by the purple patch of economic growth and opportunity taking place in Melbourne. Victoria’s capital is seen by many as possessing some of the highest quality educational institutions, employment, infrastructure and cultural facilities in Australia.
These benefits are enabling it to draw an increasing number of interstate movers, while also retaining more of those would-be out-migrants who might previously have sought a new life to the north – the latter is demonstrated by the decrease in outflow of migrants to South-East Queensland from middle-suburban LGAs such as Kingston, Knox, Bayside and Maroondah.
What’s more, it’s not unreasonable to think that those South-East Queenslanders moving in search of bigger-city advantages might opt to settle in Melbourne, rather than Sydney, given Sydney’s astronomical house prices, congested roads and, err, less cool laneways.
It would be possible to test some of these assumptions by exploring the demographic characteristics of people migrating from the sunshine state to Victoria. The larger part of the migration story depends on understanding the age, relationship status, income, qualifications and employment types of these migrants (perhaps in a later blog).
As a starting point, we can see a spatial pattern in the net migration flow between South-East Queensland and Victorian LGAs. While regional cities and rural areas continue to record a net loss in population to SEQ, the number of people moving to the Melbourne CBD and established (particularly inner) suburbs grew substantially between the last two census periods.
Should this trend continue, along with Melbourne’s rapid population growth, we may well see Victoria finally record a net migration gain from South-East Queensland in 2021.
There are a few pages in our tools that you can use to build a story of migration in your area;
- The Migration profile pages on our community profile tool map migration by location and, importantly, by age (where you choose to live varies significantly as you age!)
- The People who have moved address map on our social atlas tool shows which parts of a community house more transient populations than others.
- The Drivers of population change page on our population forecast tool includes updated maps showing historical migration flows
.id is a team of population experts, who use a unique combination of online tools and consulting to help organisations decide where and when to locate their facilities and services, to meet the needs of changing populations. We provide free resources to help you make the most of demographic data. Access .id’s demographic resources here.