THE number of babies being born in Dubbo is increasing, with the rate up by 6.7 per cent, new data shows.
During 2018, 881 babies were born in the Dubbo Regional Council local government area (LGA), data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows.
This was a seven-year high and an extra 55 babies compared to the year before when 826 newborns were welcomed.
By comparison the Orange and Bathurst LGAs had a much lower number of newborns, but a higher percentage growth rate.
In Orange there were 712 births in 2018 which is up on the 582 born the year before; while Bathurst welcomed 550 bubs during 2018 which was an increase on the 498 born in 2017.
Both towns saw an increase of 10.4 per cent in the number of births when comparing the two years.
We definitely need larger populations in Western areas, but we need to make sure that the babies being born here have access to good jobs.Dubbo Regional Council mayor Ben Shields
The ABS report also revealed fertility rates by LGA, with all three council areas higher than the national rate of 1.74 births per woman.
Dubbo has the highest rate at 2.35, followed by Orange at 2.21 and Bathurst at 1.91.
Mayor Ben Shields said it was good news that more babies were being born in the city, but noted that Dubbo Hospital had a far larger catchment than Orange or Bathurst.
"Our hospital services 130,000 people, even though we're relatively the same size when it comes to city limits," he said.
Cr Shields said planning for education, healthcare, jobs and infrastructure was vital for an LGA with a growing population.
"We definitely need larger populations in Western areas, but we need to make sure that the babies being born here have access to good jobs," he said.
"The fact we've got Sydney University doing medical degrees [in Dubbo] is a huge step forward.
"We're heading in the right direction."
Cr Shields said water scarcity was a "major issue" when planning for a growing city and pipelines or new dams were needed.
He was concerned that the drought was damaging Dubbo's reputation as a place to live and said council had fielded calls from people outside the area who were worried about the lack of water.
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