Spaces of well-being and regional settlement: International migrants and the rural idyll
Population, Space and Place
Regionalisation is a hallmark of Australia's approach to international migration, reflecting governments' growing concern with where new arrivals live. Residence in regional Australia is encouraged (mandated, for some visas) in response to urban population pressures alongside rural population and economic decline. Parallel to regionally focused visa schemes exists a pattern of voluntary urban-to-rural migration among some international migrants. Such secondary mobility counters the policy logic that international migrants only live outside cities when required to do so. This paper explores 18 African migrants' motivations for ‘urban flight’: Australian cities have failed to sustain their well-being and they consider rural life a remedy. Their preference for rural locations is not purely instrumental, it is shaped by deep-seated affective connections. Given the challenges of regional population retention, settlement policies should be recalibrated to support the aspirations of international migrants who feel an affinity for rural places, rather than compelling the rural settlement of others who do not.
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University of Wollongong