The experience of dealing with COVID-19 has removed one of the most significant barriers to a substantial population shift in this country, according to the Regional Australia Institute.
SA was one of three states where more people moved to regional centres than moved to the capital.
From 2011 to 2016, Adelaide had a nett loss of 1041 people to regional locations with popular centres including Yankalilla (1276 people gained), Victor Harbor (3338), Light (3316), Alexandrina (5624) and Lower Eyre Peninsula (1151).
RAI co-chief executive officer Liz Ritchie said the notion of how Australians work had been turned on its head and she hoped this change would lead to a significant population growth in regions, following on from a trend already set across a decade.
"From 2011 to 2016, Australia's two biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, lost more residents to regions than they gained - and this was well before COVID-19," Ms Ritchie said.
"Over the last few months, we've all had to change how we work, and this has allowed staff and employers to see that location is no longer a barrier for where we choose to work."
The official launch of the RAI's latest report, The Big Movers, unpacks population trends around the country and confirms regional Australia attracted more people than it lost to capital cities during the last Census.
In the five years to 2016, Sydney saw a net loss of 64,756 people to regional Australia, with Melbourne losing 21,609.
Brisbane bucked the trend with a net gain of 15,597 people.
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Between 2011 and 2016, more than 1.2 million people either moved to regional Australia or moved within regional Australia, from one location to another.
While the latest Census figures showed regional Australia attracted 65,204 more people than it lost to the capital cities, the trend is certainly not new.
For the decade 2006-2016, more than 135,000 more people moved from capital cities to regions than the other way around.
Ms Ritchie said the policy questions are more about how we can further understand and amplify the drivers of this movement toward regional Australia to extend the population settlement even further and supercharge the regions.
"Now is the time to work together with industry, government and regional communities to ensure regionalisation of the workforce," she said. "As a country, we are an extremely mobile nation, and we have a propensity to change our address at twice the rate of people in most OECD countries.
"If location is no longer a barrier for employment, it's possible that the trend line over the next decade could see an even greater swing to regions - and this is the RAI's ambition."
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