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A Guide to Multi-Channel Communication for Local Government

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How COVID-19 Put Extra Pressure On Regional Councils (& The Solution)

Melinda Jennings

The unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic affected all levels of government in various ways. One of the more surprising factors that put additional pressure on regional councils, though, was the mass domestic migration it caused. 

More than ever, Australians left major cities for greener - or at least more regional - pastures. According to a report from the Australian Government Centre for Population, in September 2020 regional areas outside of capital cities had a net gain of 36,200 people. This represents the highest net gain in recorded history.

Factors contributing to Australia’s mass domestic migration

In general, Australia has one of the highest levels of internal migration in the world. There are always the usual reasons for this, such as moving to be closer to family, changing cities to begin higher education or start a new job, or a change in lifestyle after retiring. 

However, with numbers higher than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, additional factors were clearly at play:

  • Financial stress due to reduced income meant some Australians could no longer afford the higher prices of living in major cities.
  • With a pivot towards remote working, Australians had the flexibility to choose a location that wasn’t purely based on commuting distance to their workplace.
  • In terms of virus transmission, overpopulated cities began to present more health risks in comparison to regional areas.
  • With the usual factors that city living offers off the table, including convenience and proximity to entertainment, many Australians prioritised more spacious and affordable living options.

Impact on local government workers 

Although councils are used to typical levels of population change over the course of a year, the unparalleled growth caused by the pandemic has been challenging. Many regional local government teams were already understaffed and underfinanced. The pandemic saw them not only dealing with the unique obstacles of communicating through a crisis, but also with a rapidly growing population.

On top of this, because of lockdowns and restrictions, more people are dependent on digital solutions than ever before. In fact, according to the Telesyte Australian Digital Consumer Study 2021, one in three Australians reported that they learnt to use new technologies or online services during the pandemic. This has created a slew of new and more advanced users of technology, who now expect to be able to interact online with their local governments in a seamless, intuitive way.

Whispir: The simple digital communication solution

To meet these challenges head on and drive engagement with a community that’s grown both in population and technological savviness, effective communication is key. And not just any communication. 

Utilising traditional methods, such as mail drops and paper forms, simply won’t cut it anymore. As well as not being engaging, these older communication forms cost more, expend more resources, and don’t allow for smart data-driven decision making.

On the other hand, digital communication ensures you can connect with your residents through their preferred channels. Whispir, a communications platform, allows you to create and send messages across SMS, email, voice, and more. You can also use data to measure real-time engagement and personalise your communications accordingly.

Better yet, Whispir is designed so that anyone can use it without the need for technical skills or coding. That means you can save yourself significant time whilst simultaneously addressing the unique pain points your council is experiencing.

To learn more about how Whispir can help you, check out our local government page. You can also gain more valuable insights by downloading our guide for local governments.