Regional economics & human impact

Victoria University has consolidated its research activity.

From 2018 research of the Victoria Institute of Strategic Economic Studies (VISES) is located within the Institute Sustainable Industries & Liveable Cities.


The distinctive specialisation ‘Economic, Social and Community Development’, now part of the ‘Sustainability, urban development, and community wellbeing’ theme, has a common thread in the study of diversity, particularly across geographic space. Much of our research in this area shares this focus.

Our work builds on developments in economic geography, such as analysing the implications for the location of economic activity of scale economies and agglomeration. Agglomeration economies favour concentration, which generates spatial inequalities in economic activity levels. Rapid global economic and technological change has created greater diversity in impact at the human level. In this regard, our work aligns with that of the Centre for Cultural Diversity & Wellbeing. The issue of diversity within development, across social and geographic groups, is a key one being confronted by virtually all developing countries within Asia and is of special relevance to Melbourne’s West.

We have undertaken a significant stream of research to better understand the economic and social growth and change in Western Region. Reduced transport and information costs act to lower the cost of economic integration, facilitating complex supply chains for goods production and assembly. Our expertise in regional economics provides insights into the broader economics of these processes, and there are good prospects of collaborating with ISCL on these issues.

Our current Regional economics & human impact project is outlined below.

Rural adjustment project

Rural adjustment or structural transformation? Discovering the destinations of exiting farm families (ARC Linkage Project LP0990297)

Prolonged drought is inducing increasing numbers of farm households to leave the land. Yet little is known about the longer-term destinations of exiting farmers. Do they stay in regional areas and take up work in agriculture-related industries, or do they find jobs in growing sectors of the economy? Is the adjustment process restricted to rural industries and communities or is it producing structural change across the economy? This project has been developed with the Victorian Government to fill this gap in knowledge. It will track the outcomes of the farm adjustment process over five years to identify durable policy strategies that will alleviate rural hardships while at the same time promoting the state’s structural adjustment objectives.

The findings of this research will assist local, State and Federal governments to intervene effectively in processes of regional and rural structural adjustment. It will generate economic benefits by recommending policies that facilitate growth and promote sustainable rural businesses while at the same time sheltering rural communities and individual households from adverse outcomes. It will contribute social benefits by identifying policies to improve the outcomes of rural adjustment for families and individuals. The new knowledge it provides will inform the politics of regional change and remove some of the uncertainties that currently impede the implementation of rural adjustment policies

Industry partner

  • Department of Treasury and Finance, Victorian Government

Chief Investigators

  • Dr Sally Weller, Senior Research Fellow, VISES, VU
  • Associate Professor William N Pritchard, Division of Geography, School of Geosciences, The University of Sydney
  • Professor Margaret Alston, School of Primary Health Care, Monash University
  • Professor Michael J Webber, School of Social and Environmental Enquiry, The University of Melbourne
  • Dr Anthony Kent, Postdoctoral Fellow, VISES, VU

PhD students

  • Josephine Clarke (Monash University)
  • Erin Smith (University of Sydney) 

Contact us

For more information about Regional economics & human impact projects, contact Professor Bruce Rasmussen.

Phone: +61 3 9919 1342
Email: bruce.rasmussen@vu.edu.au