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Staying, coming or going? Survey to explore Territory migration since COVID-19

Fiona Shalley
CDU Northern Institute demographer Fiona Shalley said the survey would explore how COVID-19 has impacted the NT's population migration patterns

Charles Darwin University researchers have developed a survey to provide a better understanding of COVID-19’s impact on population migration patterns into and out of the Northern Territory.

“The Territory and Me - COVID Update” will build on previous research to investigate how the Territory is perceived as a place to live, a future migration destination or a transition place to another location. 

CDU Northern Institute demographer Fiona Shalley said researchers were interested in why people were in the Territory now.

“It’s about our population, particularly anyone who has newly arrived – and whether they think the Territory is a good place to be during the current uncertain times,” Ms Shalley said.

“And everyone is a potential Territorian, even if it’s for a short time. So we encourage people to complete the survey and then share it with their family and friends.” 

The research will build on a previous successful survey completed by CDU researchers last year. 

“The Territory and Me” attracted more than 5000 participants and provided information on why people come to live in the Territory, why they stay and why some leave.

Results showed that people come to the Territory for a wide range of reasons but their motives for leaving were strongly linked to where they were in their life. 

Younger people were more likely to think about leaving than older people, but length of residence had a significant influence on whether people intended to migrate somewhere else. 

“People often see themselves living here for around two years. Data from the original survey told us that if they stay longer than that, then they are less likely to think about leaving,” Ms Shalley said.

“They are starting to establish themselves here, perhaps buy a home and settle their kids into school or university. Their attachments become stronger.” 

The baseline data from the original survey is significant because it allows the researchers to identify what has changed since COVID-19 struck, according to Ms Shalley. 

“COVID happened and those motivations may now have changed,” she said.  

“At this point we can only speculate on whether people are seeing the Territory as a safe haven or whether people are being drawn back to where they originally came from. We need some more data.”

The survey is open to everyone 18 years and over, regardless of whether they are a current Territorian.  Visit theterritoryandme.cdu.edu.au to access the survey.

All participants can opt to go into a prize draw. First prize is a $500 retail voucher and there are two supplementary vouchers valued at $100 each.