Executive summary: This report analyses processes of social change affecting two multicultural suburbs in Melbourne’s north, Coburg and Fawkner, focusing on factors that impact on community cohesion. The Moreland Council (2006, 2011) has identified that national trends of rising housing costs and spikes in unemployment disproportionately affect culturally diverse communities. This report seeks to contribute to an in-depth understanding of these issues, drawing on existing demographic data as well as residents’ perceptions. The report is based on ABS data, interviews and focus group discussions with residents and local service providers, and participant observation in the neighbourhoods. It provides a brief social profile of each suburb before presenting the narrative data gleaned through this project. The report focuses on the issues of gentrification, immigration, employment, housing and community cohesion in the two suburbs. The report makes the case that these two suburbs share some broad experiences of social change:
• The de-industrialisation of Melbourne’s former industrial heartland for textiles, footwear, food and auto manufacturing.
• The rapid increase in housing costs across Melbourne in the context of a growing population.
• Increasingly skills-focused immigration in the context of a labour market dominated by service jobs.
• Socio-demographic transitions (differently affecting the two suburbs), including: the ageing of established migrant communities; the influx of new migrant groups; and gentrification.
• Relatively harmonious inter-ethnic and community relations.
• A relative lack of new public infrastructure including public transport, public housing and public education facilities, with some recent investment in recreation facilities.