100 Resilient Cities

Melbourne

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Melbourne is a vibrant and proudly multicultural city of 4.3 million residents, originating from more than 180 different countries.

A “city of cities,” Melbourne is made up of 32 local government authorities (councils) spread over 10,000 square kilometers around Port Phillip Bay, comprising hundreds of diverse local neighborhoods, each with its own character, cultural mix and set of advantages and problems.

To cope with increasing complexity and uncertainty, we need a new approach. This must be centered on our communities, supporting and enabling them to adapt to these accelerating changes and the associated stresses, to survive no matter what shocks occur, and to confidently thrive. This approach will link new resilience-building actions with existing efforts – this way we can build a Melbourne that is a better place for future generations to live in, and whose services and advantages can be enjoyed by all of its citizens. Melbourne is deeply invested in this effort – both in terms of human and financial resources. Our city is committing full-time staff to the Resilient Melbourne Delivery Office, which will ensure that our work is enduring and long-lasting.

People are at the heart of all cities. A resilient Melbourne will draw on the strengths of our diverse communities and geographies, including our Indigenous communities, to pursue our shared interests, embrace our differences and be stronger together. We will help communities prepare for change and whatever the future may hold. We will work today, tomorrow and together, towards a more viable, sustainable, livable and prosperous Melbourne.

1 Stronger Together Empower communities to take active responsibility for their own and each other's well-being, safety, and health.

2 Our Shared Places Create and sustain buildings, infrastructure and activities that promote social cohesion, equality of opportunity and health.

3 A Dynamic Economy Provide diverse local employment opportunities that support an adaptable workforce that is ready for the jobs of the future.

4 A Healthier Environment Enable strong natural assets and ecosystems alongside a growing population.

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1

Empower communities to take active responsibility for their own and each other's well-being, safety, and health.

Melbournians, like most Australians, generally see themselves as resourceful and resilient in the face of shocks. However, research undertaken by Resilient Melbourne found that only 41 per cent of Melburnians are confident that their neighborhood would pull together in an emergency, and only 39 per cent believe that most people in their neighborhood can be trusted. This suggests that we are not as cohesive as we imagine. Such perceptions place increased pressure on our emergency services by reducing community self-reliance. We need our communities to be better able to recognize the hazards they face, to plan to manage risks and their consequences for themselves and their broader communities, supported by certainty that governments will always help the most vulnerable and those who are simply unfortunate.

To support this goal, we will work to better understand the drivers of community resilience. Resilient Melbourne has begun an attitudinal study that will help us to develop more effective programs to inspire and equip people to be more active in their communities and provide us with an understanding of the issues, needs, and opportunities associated with community members helping one another and a benchmark against which we can measure changes in beliefs and behaviors in the future.

We will develop new ways of operating that empower communities to be more active in their safety and wellbeing, including a comprehensive community resilience framework for Victoria’s emergency management sector, a key action of the Victorian Emergency Management Strategic Action Plan 2015–18, a three-year rolling plan that outlines the Victorian Government’s plans for creating safer and more resilient communities.

We will build new community networks, and strengthen existing ones, to provide the community infrastructure that fosters social cohesion, equality opportunity and livability. The Neighbourhood Project will provide 12 months of capacity building, resources and mentoring to participating communities in how to turn under-used land into green spaces, as well as training in design and project management.

We will help people in Melbourne at risk of exclusion form strong social bonds, by implementing programs that provide a solid foundation for cultural integration, as well as offering opportunities for people to learn valuable language and practical skills, essential for the safety and wellbeing of our communities. This includes the Life Saving Victoria multicultural water safety and settlement program, which teaches water skills to refugees, new arrivals and international students, and helps them settle in to Melbourne.

Lastly, we’ll make insurance affordable for more people, which means more of our residents will be able to bounce back when unexpected shocks threaten their livelihoods and prosperity. We will draw on local government network and communications channels and build on ‘Essentials’ by AAI Limited, an innovative insurance scheme to provide basic, affordable and accessible home and contents and car insurance to low-income individuals.

A playground for young and old in Cardinia Shire.

2

Create and sustain buildings, infrastructure and activities that promote social cohesion, equality of opportunity and health.

Melbourne’s physical form plays a major role in the cohesiveness of its communities. Affordable and suitable housing – a United Nations-recognized basic human right – efficient transport networks, and community infrastructure (including healthcare, educational facilities and recreational spaces) are all essential for building and maintaining social cohesion. Providing infrastructure to support cohesive communities is a challenge for all of Melbourne, not only in its most disadvantaged areas. Cohesive communities are better able to share resources and support each other in response to shocks and stresses. Following extreme events, cohesive communities make the means to survive and thrive – particularly capital and skills – available more quickly and to more people.

To support this objective, we will trial new ways of providing community infrastructure and services, such as housing, transport and energy. The Melbourne Apartments Project (MAP) will put home ownership within reach of more public housing tenants and provide a funding stream for the development of similar projects. The Resilient Melbourne Delivery Office is working with the creators and financial backers of MAP to identify new locations and partners to turn an innovative pilot into something able to address a systemic challenge.

We will create opportunities by working together and sharing resources in good times and bad. This includes enable participating councils to invest in renewable energy, thus diversifying energy sources and shifting to cleaner technologies. Melbourne’s heavy reliance on electricity generated in the Latrobe Valley, which leaves us vulnerable to energy disruptions from shock events such as bushfires, blackouts during heatwaves and acts of sabotage. Diversifying the sources of electricity supplying Melbourne’s grid, while increasing renewable generation, can help reduce this reliance, and will bring health benefits from less burning of coal.

We will actively involve citizens and communities in the decision making process and use urban form to encourage greater social interactions, with community-led neighborhood renewal and development pilot projects that will support citizen participation in neighborhood and local infrastructure planning. These development projects, from multi-unit buildings to redevelopments of entire precincts, will be located in inner, middle and outer Melbourne municipalities and allow property companies and partners to try new ways of putting residents at the heart of decision making.

Finally, we will create spaces that enable people to come together tackle shared challenges. For example, we’ll support young people as they design, create and test out their own technology based strategies to tackle stresses and shocks affecting youth mental health, and take steps to catalyze other community-based initiatives to support the resilience of young people.

Knox City Council affordable housing

3

Provide diverse local employment opportunities that support an adaptable workforce that is ready for the jobs of the future.

Providing employment opportunities is critical to increasing the resilience of our city as a whole, as well as that of particular communities and individuals. Employment creates bonds based on common interests, and widens support networks. It enables us to buy services such as insurance, and provides income we can use to recover from shock events. Opportunities for diverse and fulfilling employment also help reduce a range of chronic stresses, such as homelessness, poverty, mental illness and domestic violence.

Melbourne’s economy is moving away from a heavy manufacturing past, towards higher-skilled jobs. For this reason, we need a workforce equipped to work in emerging industries, some of which may not yet even exist. This requires giving Melbournians the right skills for the jobs of the future, which includes STEM mentoring for young people who might otherwise never be exposed to people in professional roles in these fields. We will support efforts such as LifeJourney, a social-purpose driven business that lets students test-drive future STEM careers. LifeJourney’s technology enables a single mentor to inspire and guide 10,000 or more students at the same time and has an ambitious target of reaching 2.5 million students across Australia, with potentially up to 1 million in Melbourne alone.

We will promote a broader spread of successful new and small and medium-sized enterprises across Melbourne’s entire metropolitan area, encouraging small employment clusters and service centers. The Resilient Melbourne Delivery Office will work with B Lab Australia & New Zealand to deliver ‘B Corporation’ training to SMEs, which will help businesses understand their business operations and their impacts. As a free online resource, the ‘B Impact Assessment’ is an affordable way for SMEs and emerging businesses to prepare for future shocks and stresses.

Members of the Young and Well CRC brains trust.

4

Enable strong natural assets and ecosystems alongside a growing population.

Although our unique natural environment poses threats such as bushfires and floods, we also directly rely on it for our livelihoods and wellbeing. Melbourne’s parks, forests, gardens and wetlands help clean the air we breathe, reduce noise, regulate the climate, filter water, and give us places for recreation, to name just a few. Our natural assets are coming under increasing pressure as more development is needed to support our growing population. By protecting our natural assets and exploring imaginative ways to put nature back into communities, our city will save money in the long run and support the long term resilience of Melbourne.

To support this objective, we will extend and link existing efforts to strengthen our natural assets and the ecosystem services they provide. This includes a metropolitan urban forest strategy for all of Melbourne. We will support and facilitate the urban greening and revegetation projects being undertaken by local councils, water authorities, community groups, and regional collaborations happening all around our city.

We will promote new and cost-effective ways to manage our natural resources more efficiently and reduce environmental damage. Our efforts will develop guidance and decision-making tools to better enable councils to expand the use of water-sensitive urban design and integrated water management techniques that are suited to their local contexts. These will build upon approaches already being applied in many parts of Melbourne, and work in conjunction with water authorities, other infrastructure operators and DELWP, which is currently developing a new water plan for Victoria.

A parklet created by temporarily closing a small street in Abbotsford.

Our Resilience Team

  • Toby Kent

    Chief Resilience Officer

    @tobykent01
  • Maree Grenfell

    Resilience Coordinator

Read Melbourne Resilience Strategy