Wingecarribee's increased ageing population needs to be balanced

There is more to Wingecarribee's population than meets the eye. Photo: Shutterstock
There is more to Wingecarribee's population than meets the eye. Photo: Shutterstock

Wingecarribee, in NSW's Southern Highlands, ageing population is due to increase by 2036, with one prediction revealing residents over the age of 85 could increase by 127 per cent.

WSC's Local Housing Strategy report referenced data from the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE), which showed that the largest increase in the Shire's population would be in residents over the age of 70.

The 2019 population projection for Wingecarribee by the DPIE said that the "movement of people around retirement age" would influence the population increase.

WSC manager of strategic land use planning Michael Park said population growth was a "complex issue" with many factors to consider.

"Population growth in the Wingecarribee has been very much driven by inward migration," he said.

"A large portion of the inward migration in the Shire historically has been seniors, which was forecasted to continue.

"It could be people either semi-retiring into the area, or fully retiring into the area."

The council document presented the DPIE's "medium" and "high growth scenario" for Wingecarribee by 2041, with the former predicting 51,495 residents in the Shire in the next 20 years.

The high growth scenario however stated the Wingecarribee Shire would exceed 56,000 residents by 2041, increasing by 0.5 per cent per year.

Mr Park said it was critical to show both scenarios to prepare for a potential influx of people.

"With the forecasts, we won't have enough people living here to service the elderly population, let alone the businesses that we need to maintain a healthy economy," he said.

Although many Australians chose to pack their bags for a change in scenery, Mr Park said it was difficult to determine the pandemic's impact on the population.

"There is not a lot of material data to tell us what has happened," he said.

"Anecdotally, there has been a decentralisation of the population to a certain degree as people moved out of the cities with remote working, but it's not simple as that.

"The pandemic has shown that we need to adapt."

Data from WSC's report also showed that residents between the ages of zero and 59 are due to decrease.

Mr Park said the council strived to have a "better balance" of age groups in the future population.

"What we have planned through our housing strategy and other strategies, is to try to reshape it to some degree," he said.

"We needed to try and encourage younger families to stay and encourage employment into the area.

"This can maintain a younger working age and higher education, so those groups stay within the area."

This story Data reveals this NSW region's ageing population is climbing first appeared on Southern Highland News.