Understanding ‘brain drain’ an economic priority

The peak body for the state’s biggest industry has called on the State Government to undertake urgent research to better understand South Australia’s ‘brain drain’.

ABS data for last financial year reveals that almost 400 South Australians aged 20-24 left South Australia, with 95 per cent of net intestate migrants being women. This same breakdown in the previous year was 68 per cent.

Property Council SA Executive Director Daniel Gannon said the biggest future challenge for South Australian businesses and economy growth is demand.

“Not only is South Australia’s ‘brain drain’ a real threat, but when combined with our state’s low population growth rate and an ageing population, these problems are compounded,” he said.

“The State Government’s draft 30-Year Plan for Greater Adelaide has recently revised down South Australia’s population growth rate at a time when it should be devoting maximum resources to determining the blockages and repaving a growth pathway.

“Anecdotally we know that young South Australians move interstate in search of lifestyle and job opportunities, and the latest annual data reveals that 95 per cent of 20-24yo South Australians leaving the state are women. This statistic has jumped from only 68 per cent the year before.

“We also know that many of these young South Australians return to our state at a point in the future, and they return with greater knowledge and refined skills, which is a benefit to our economy.

“However, what we don’t know is the extent of this return voyage and whether it offsets the initial interstate migration. So it’s time we better understood this trend.

“We need to have greater clarity around the movements and motivations of the approximately 5,000 young South Australians who left our state last year to fully understand the risks and opportunities.”


Background information
Property is South Australia’s largest private sector employer and biggest industry, accounting for 10.8% of the state’s economic activity (or $10.5 billion).

It builds prosperity by paying $4.4 billion in wages and salaries – one in six people draw their wage directly or indirectly from property – and one million South Australians have a stake in property through their super funds.

Property is the largest single industry contributor paying 56.6% of state taxes, local government rates, fees and charges.


Media contact: Daniel Gannon | E [email protected]