WIDE BAY BURNETT: No sugar coating region’s statistic
THE latest Status Report from regional development experts shows the Wide Bay Burnett region still suffers from some of the worst social statistics in the country.
Based on data from July to December, the Regional Development Australia report shows the region's population sits just under 300,000, making it the largest population in the state outside of southeast Queensland.
Scott Rowe, the director of regional development for the Wide Bay Burnett, said the area has many historic challenges.
"So every success that we have, we put a notch in our belt and move on and continue to work," he said.
"Geographically we are perfectly positioned to take that growth out of southeast Queensland.
"Our unemployment rate, 7.3 per cent last quarter, is the fourth worst in Queensland.
"For youth unemployment, we had some good results across the last 12 months and it has dropped a couple of per cent but it is still way too high. "At 19.1 per cent, we are second in Queensland and the worst in coastal Queensland."
Mr Rowe said the ageing demographic of the region today is what the rest of Australia will be in 20 years' time.
"That can be a drag on our systems but also present a wealth of opportunities. We need to be using our more experienced residents," he said.
He said 74.2 per cent of population is over 65s on the pension. The Australian average is 63.3 per cent.
The region has the lowest average disposable income in Australia at $34,261 per annum and the lowest average hourly rate of pay.