The dynamics of small country towns

Fitzpatrick, Danielle (1997). The dynamics of small country towns Master's Thesis, School of Geography, Planning and Architecture, The University of Queensland.

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Author Fitzpatrick, Danielle
Thesis Title The dynamics of small country towns
School, Centre or Institute School of Geography, Planning and Architecture
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1997
Thesis type Master's Thesis
Supervisor Unknown
Total pages 1 v.
Language eng
Subjects 269999 Earth Sciences not elsewhere classified
Formatted abstract
The study of rural issues has gained momentum in recent years in the face of the nature of changes occurring in rural areas. These changes have been characterised by:
• The deterioration of the agricultural sector as a primary source of rural employment due to increasing mechanisation and changes in form and scale of farm structures;
• The reduction in population numbers and densities in small country towns and their catchment areas, as a result of the decline in the agricultural sector;
• The closure or downsizing of businesses, unemployment and rationalisation of services and infrastructure by government due to a reduction in demand caused by the reduction in population;
• The compounding effects of external forces such as : increased mobility of retirees, younger retirement ages and better health, increasing demand by young people for educational opportunities; an ageing population; increasing ‘urbanisation’ of rural populations; and restructuring of other parts of the economy (eg: bank deregulation which has led to the closure of many small country town branches.

It is in this context that this Thesis explores the dynamics of small country towns and the effect of the abovementioned changes upon them. More specifically this Thesis:
• Examines the nature of small country towns and identifies the difficulties with their comparison;
• Explores the dynamics of small country towns in the context of the above circumstances;
• Analyses those factors (internal and external) which may contribute to the growth or decline of small country towns and provides illustrative examples of the consequences of growth and decline through an examination of case studies. Emphasis is placed upon the causes of decline;
• Identifies what are the qualities and characteristics of small country towns which demonstrate a capacity to improve their relative economic status in the face of economic and social decline (ie: the characteristics associated with economically viable small country towns); and
• Addresses the options for addressing small country town decline, more specifically the possibilities for revitalisation of those declining small country towns which demonstrate the characteristics of economic viability, through the process of economic development strategies/initiatives.

This Thesis does not suggest that all declining small country towns may be ‘saved’ from total economic demise but provides a guide for identifying the specific causes of decline in small country towns and for identifying those viable small country towns which may be candidates for revitalisation initiatives perhaps through the adoption of economic development strategies. The role of Governments, particularly that of Local Government, in the revitalisation process is also examined.

The outcome of this Thesis is to provide a framework of criteria for identifying small country town decline and viability which may be further developed to derive a ‘model’ for identifying those small country towns experiencing decline, which may be viable candidates for the application of revitalisation initiatives.
Keyword Cities and towns -- Australia
Sociology, Rural -- Australia
Thesis -- MUrb&RegPlg

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