Glenelg ShirePopulation forecast
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This forecast has been updated with 2016 Census dwelling counts and the 2016 Estimated Resident Population. More information can be found here.

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Glenelg Shire

Drivers of population change

Development history

Glenelg Shire is located along the Great South Coast in Victoria’s South-West, with the largest centre at Portland, about 300 kilometres from Melbourne. Other centres in the Shire include Casterton, Heywood, Nelson, Dartmoor and Merino.

The Shire has a mixed economic base with highly productive rural areas, a large aluminium manufacturing facility and deep water port, as well as a combination of service functions, notably in Portland. Beef cattle is the main rural industry in the south, while wool production is more common in the northern areas around Casterton and there is a strong horticultural sector around Portland. Forestry and fishing are also important employers within the region.

Manufacturing is concentrated in the aluminium industry, with the Alcoa smelter and its associated support industries, the largest employer. Agriculture based industries are also a large employer, notably around Heywood and Dartmoor. A large share of the population is employed in services, most notably health care, retail trade, and education. Tourism is also a notable employer in Glenelg Shire, especially along the coastal areas and around Portland. The Shire is relatively self-contained in employment terms and as a consequence future changes to population will be associated with employment growth or decrease.

Migration patterns

The population of Glenelg Shire grew substantially between 1976 and 1986 with the construction and opening of the Alcoa Smelter. A relatively stable population during the late 1980s was followed by dramatic population loss, notably during the 1991-1996 period. There were comparatively minor losses between 1996, 2001 and 2006, which increased to a larger loss of over 200 people from 2006-2011. The dominant drivers for population loss during these periods were:

  • loss of young people (18-24 years) to major centres, such as Geelong, Warrnambool, Ballarat and Hamilton, as well as Queensland and Western Australia.
  • consolidation of farming enterprises producing out-migration of persons, most notably in the dry-land farming areas in the north of the Shire
  • loss of employment in other key industries such as forestry (and associated forestry manufacturing)

The dominant drivers for population gain during these periods have been:

  • major investment decisions (such as Alcoa)
  • employment growth in services, especially health, tourism based industries, public administration and education
  • consolidation of agricultural industries and growth in value-adding
  • attraction of families to the area, based on the amenity and beauty

The population gains tend to be based on external migration factors, such as from overseas and metropolitan Melbourne, particularly to coastal areas of the Shire. It is assumed that a number of these patterns will continue into the future, most notably flows into the Shire from overseas and losses of young people to larger centres.

Historical migration flows, Glenelg Shire, 2006-2011
Historical migration flows, Glenelg Shire, 2006-2011
'Overseas' refers to arrivals only.

Population and household forecasts, 2016 to 2036, prepared by .id the population experts, December 2017.

Note: The migration flows depicted above are historical and do not represent future or forecast migration flows or subsequent council boundary changes. The arrows represent migration flows to the area as a whole and do not indicate an origin or destination for any specific localities within the area. Overseas flow shows overseas arrivals only, based on answers to the census question “where did the person usually live 5-years ago.

Housing role and function

With the size of the Glenelg Shire and its varied land use and local economy, different areas within the City have developed different roles in the housing market. Portland (Central), Portland (South) and Portland Surrounds are advantaged by the natural beauty of their seaside locations and the relative proximity to a broad range of education, retail and health services in the town. There is not likely to be a limit on supply in any of these areas and they will continue to attract young and mature families to the township.

Heywood and Casterton attract lower levels of family households but also play home to a significant population of retirees relocating from the surrounding agricultural areas. Glenelg Rural is likely to continue to decrease in population, and is expected to lose large numbers of young adults and empty nesters/retirees while still gaining lower numbers of family households.

Housing supply

There are also significant differences in the supply of future residential land within the Shire which will also have a major influence in structuring different population and household futures over the next twenty-five years. New ‘Greenfield’ residential development opportunities have been identified in Portland (South) and Portland Surrounds, while Portland (Central) is expected to produce higher density apartment/townhouse style dwellings being closer to retail and health services. Casterton, Heywood and Glenelg Rural are also likely to experience some residential development, albeit at lower levels than those identified in Portland.

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