COVID-19: Southwest towns most vulnerable to economic impact
ROMA and Chinchilla are two of Australia's most vulnerable communities to the immediate economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new research report has found.
A team of researchers surmised that areas dominated by just a couple of sectors have little to fall back on when key industries experience disruption.
Roma and Chinchilla appeared on the list alongside Karratha, Airlie Beach, Sale, Gladstone, Byron Bay, Lakes Entrance, Tannum Sands, and Cairns as Australia's most vulnerable towns and cities.
The research was conducted through a collaboration between the University of South Australia Business School, the Hunder Foundation Research Centre at the University of Newcastle, and George Mason University in Washington DC.
"The report used an economic vulnerability index, devised to identify communities likely to see the largest and most immediate negative effects on local economic activity and labour markets," Professor Andrew Beer said.
"This is not a measure of absolute vulnerability. But we need to be clear; this pandemic will affect every city and town in Australia, and those impacts may change over the period of this crisis.
"Keeping up with economic impacts under rapidly changing conditions is particularly challenging, and many of these places have also felt the impact of Australia's summer of bush fires."
Prof Beer said there are ways places at risk can respond to these challenging times.
"Mayors, state governments and business leaders should be looking at ways to develop new markets and new industries, closely related to their existing strengths, as part of a more diversified, but still globally competitive, industry base," he said.
"For places like Roma, this might be in logistics, while Chinchilla could further develop its strength in agriculture."