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 the 12 months to September 2016 reveals in net terms that almost 6,500 people moved interstate.

Property Council SA Executive Director Daniel Gannon said this represents an almost 60% increase year-on-year and is a major challenge for South Australian businesses.

“More people are leaving South Australia than are settling here – it’s that simple,” he said.

“Not only is South Australia’s ‘brain drain’ a real threat, but when combined with our state’s low population growth rate – 0.6% compared to the national average of 1.5% – and an ageing population, these problems are compounded,” he said.

“The State Government’s draft 30-Year Plan for Greater Adelaide last year 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 we are hemorrhaging talent to other jurisdictions.

“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 6,500 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 dgannon@propertycouncil.com.au