Mayor reiterates calls for regional status for island communities after red alert rating from Employment Vulnerability Index

Redlands Coast islands have topped the list for employment vulnerability, according to an index published by  the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), an official research centre at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales.

Mayor Karen Williams said CofFEE’s Employment Vulnerability Index (EVI) was updated in response to the economic downturn triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It identifies areas that have higher proportions of the types of jobs thought to be at most risk when economic activity declines,” Cr Williams said.

“As a group, all of our islands – including North Stradbroke Island, Coochiemuldo Island and the Southern Moreton Bay Islands – top the list for Queensland with a red alert rating.

“That suggests our island communities – with an older population and lower incomes relative to the Queensland average – are very vulnerable to employment loss if the national economy contracts.”

Cr Williams said with Redlands Coast islands already having high unemployment and vulnerable communities, it reinforced the need for increased funding from other levels of government.

“With isolation and ageing communities our islands were hurting before COVID-19 and now they face a double whammy that is going to need all levels of government to recognise and respond to these challenges,” Cr Williams said.

“With sand mining exiting North Stradbroke Island last year it was always going to have an uphill battle and they will need as much help as possible to build the tourism economy the State Government predicted to fill the mining void.

Cr Williams said the data reinforced the need for Redlands Coast islands to be recognised as regional communities.

“I have always maintained that our island communities have a different profile to the Redlands Coast mainland,” she said.

“They are more aligned with regional communities and should be categorised as such in order to be able to access regional support funding from other levels of government.

“This is something I have continued to advocate for over many years.

“I once again ask the Queensland Government to consider the evidence – clearly stated through the EVI Index – and recategorise our islands to allow their eligibility for improved financial support.”