For the 2006 combined International Geographical Union, Institute of Australian Geographers Inc. (IAG) and New Zealand Geographical Society conference in Brisbane, the IAG Cultural Geography and Rural Geography Study Groups collaborated to offer a special themed session on ‘rural youth issues’. Our pre-conference blurb on the session invited papers on a range of issues facing young people in rural areas. Yet the eventuating session focussed almost entirely on the out-migration of youth from rural towns and regions. Some papers made observations on the causes and impacts of migration – for the migrants leaving as well as for the places left behind. Others discussed conceptual and policy issues related to youth out-migration. There was, as far as we are aware, no prior collusion between the various speakers to provide the session with a closer focus and an intellectual coherence that its advertised title may have suggested was lacking. We can only assume that the movement of young people out of virtually all non-metropolitan settlement zones (whether coastal, dry, remote or inland) signifies a central, if not the central, issue of contemporary research concern regarding young people in rural areas. In many ways, this construal of rural youth out-migration as ‘rural youth issues’ is a natural extension of rural and cultural geographers’ ongoing concern for the demographic, social and economic development of non-metropolitan towns and regions.