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National Settlement Forecasting: A Strategy for Creating Resilient, Liveable and Thriving Communities

National settlement forecasting is a crucial tool in the pursuit of creating resilient, liveable and thriving communities, particularly in Australia's fastest-growing outer metropolitan cities and suburbs.

These growth areas are characterised by a higher percentage of overseas-born residents, larger households, and increased cultural diversity compared to the national average. The unique demographic and cultural makeup of these communities presents both opportunities and challenges in terms of infrastructure and service delivery.

Accurate settlement forecasting enables forward planning, ensuring that essential infrastructure and services are delivered in a timely and efficient way to meet current and future demands.

Migration Trends and Cultural Diversity

Growth areas in Australia welcome a significantly higher percentage of overseas-born residents compared to the national average. In these regions, 33.4% of residents are from overseas, compared to 27.7% nationally (source: Forecast.id).

Notably, India emerges as the most common birthplace for overseas residents in these areas, representing 5.1% of the population—nearly double the national figure of 2.6%. Additionally, the United Kingdom and New Zealand also show higher percentages in growth areas, with the Philippines and Pakistan exhibiting significant differences as well. (Source: Forecast.id)

This substantial presence of overseas-born residents enriches the cultural fabric but also necessitates tailored community infrastructure and services. Understanding the profile of a community helps councils plan for and implement culturally appropriate services.

Household Dynamics and Service Demands

Larger household sizes are a defining characteristic of Australia's growth areas, where there is a higher proportion of households with three or more people compared to the national average (Source: Forecast.id). This trend is particularly evident in communities with a significant number of overseas-born residents. Larger households often result from the cultural practices of multigenerational living and the need for affordable housing solutions.

These households place a greater demand on local infrastructure and services, including schools, healthcare, and public transportation. With more residents per household, there is an increased demand for a wide range of community services, including waste management, public health, and recreational facilities. Councils must also ensure that these services are culturally appropriate and accessible to a diverse population such as language support services and culturally sensitive health programs. Additionally, the need for larger, more flexible community spaces becomes evident, as these can accommodate a variety of activities and gatherings.

Effective forward planning is critical to meet these demands, ensuring that infrastructure keeps pace with population growth. Councils in growth areas often face the challenge of funding an increasing share of community infrastructure, highlighting the importance of coordinated planning and resource allocation across all government levels.

The Case for National Settlement Forecasting

National settlement forecasting allows all levels of government to anticipate future needs, ensuring that essential services and infrastructure are delivered in a timely manner. By leveraging comprehensive data and projections, both federal and state governments can prioritise projects and allocate resources more efficiently. This includes planning for new housing, schools, healthcare facilities, and transport connectivity that will be needed as the population grows.

Effective coordination across different levels of government is essential for successful sustainable development in growth areas. National settlement forecasting provides a unified data source that can be used by local, state, and federal governments, ensuring consistency in planning and resource allocation.

This holistic approach not only enhances efficiency but also ensures that the needs of diverse communities are met comprehensively. By promoting a collaborative framework, national settlement forecasting helps create well-planned, resilient, and sustainable urban environments.

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