Regional and outer metropolitan communities
At the close of 2016 Victoria’s population was over 6.2 million – we are the fastest growing state or territory in Australia.
Barriers to access
By 2031, Victoria's population is expected to reach 7.7 million, and by 2051, around ten million. Melbourne is also the fastest growing of the capital cities, with the three fastest growing suburbs in Australia.
The population of rural and regional Victoria is also increasing, but at a slower, uneven rate. These communities are dealing with a range of complex and disruptive issues, including increasing global competition, workforce restructuring and rapid technological change. In addition to this, within these communities are those – such as the aged, people with a disability, non-English speaking communities and Torres Strait Islanders – experiencing entrenched socio-economic disadvantage and disenfranchisement, in part due to a lack of critical mass.
The Library and government
Under the Regional statement: your voice, your region, your state (2015), the Victorian Government has outlined the following key strategies to support regional planning and development:
- regional partnerships
- stronger links between local and state planning and policy decisions
- community engagement
- greater investment for jobs, education, communities and infrastructure.
State Library Victoria and Victoria’s public libraries
Our collaborative relationship with Victoria’s 275 public libraries allows us to connect with regional and outer metropolitan Victorians. Engaging with these communities, especially those with limited access to literary resources and events, has been a major focus, and will continue to be over the next three years. Signature programs include:
- High Road to Reading program, with author visits to participating regional public libraries
- Family history presentations in libraries and historical centres across the state
- Victorian heats of the Australian poetry slam
- Touring exhibitions such as Writing the war: personal stories from WWI (2016–18), Story Island: an adventure in pictures (2016–18) and Self-made: zines and artist books (2017–19).
Our Vision 2020 redevelopment will equip the Library with the tools to connect digitally with audiences in regional Victoria and beyond, in real time. The Library is also working on a proposal to develop a statewide network of co-working entrepreneurial spaces in partnership with public libraries and Creative Victoria. Fourteen public library services in regional Victoria, Melbourne’s outer growth corridors and in metropolitan Melbourne have expressed interest in joining as initial partners.