Counting on mobile populations
  • Tuesday 21 February 2012

Sunshine Coast Council is one of 11 Australian coastal councils involved in a research project on the impact of non-resident populations on coastal communities.

Division 8 Councillor Debbie Blumel said the research is being carried out in conjunction with the National Sea Change Taskforce.

"Collecting mobile population information is a key component of the research that will be undertaken by a research team at the University of Adelaide," Cr Blumel said.

"An example of mobile populations is the thousands of people who flock to Australia’s coastal areas over holiday periods.

"Mobile populations include tourists and holiday home owners and are typically hard to count. As a result, the populations in these communities tend to be significantly underestimated.

"Sunshine Coast Council has an estimated permanent population of 338,000, however, this figure increases by tens of thousands in holiday periods.

"Most coastal areas experience similar population increases at weekends and in holiday periods.

"The differences between these weekend and seasonal population figures have an important bearing on the share of financial assistance grants that councils receive.

"Council is required to plan infrastructure and services to meet peak population demand in the community.

"Because the non-resident population is not currently counted Sunshine Coast Council receives a smaller share of financial assistance grants than we require to meet the infrastructure and services needs of holiday and weekend populations.

"A recent report on population trends by the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics observed that there is a high level of internal mobility in the Australian population and that much of this internal migration is towards regional cities in coastal areas.

"The research work we are commissioning through the University of Adelaide is aimed at developing a methodology to collect accurate data on mobile populations that will help coastal councils to better plan to meet the needs of their communities."