THE population of Portland may be increasing slightly each year, but efforts to attract or retain more people need to be intensified in order to halt the steady decline of population within the Glenelg Shire.
Portland’s population has increased by an average of 48 people each year between 2006 and 2011 or 2.56 per cent, bringing the total population to 9601. However, the population of the Glenelg Shire has decreased by an average of 37 people, or 0.93 per cent, each year, resulting in many small towns becoming even smaller, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2011 Census.
Townships with populations in the thousands have become significantly smaller; Heywood has shrunk by 16.9 per cent, from 2076 to 1725, and Casterton by 10.09 per cent from 1962 to 1764.
Conversely, townships or communities with populations in the hundreds have increased in size — one by roughly 50 per cent, with Narrawong growing from 176 to 351; Nelson from 226 to 311; Gorae/Gorae West from 375 to 433, and Dartmoor from 218 to 263 on Census night.
Glenelg Shire chief executive officer Sharon Kelsey said the statistics were yet to be rounded and a more accurate understanding of the shire would be made available next year.
Ms Kelsey said the council had dedicated significant funding to Casterton and Heywood through its capital works program and lobbying the government for additional funding to try and revitalise rural communities.
In April this year the Department of Planning and Community Development forecast the Glenelg Shire’s population would grow by 2000 people in the next 20 years, a figure labelled as conservative by the council and, on the back of the recent Census statistics, they still hold that view.
Read more in Wednesday’s edition of the Portland Observer.