Income segregation across Melbourne’s residential communities is widening, and at a pace faster than in some other Australian cities such as Adelaide. Back in 1996 Australian Taxation Office data show that average taxable income in Melbourne’s 10 postcodes with the highest taxable incomes was 2.1 times that in the 10 postcodes with the lowest taxable incomes. By 2003 this multiple had widened to 2.7, but in Adelaide it remained unchanged at 1.8 over the same time period (Nygaard, Wood and Stoakes, 2006). The widening gap between Melbourne’s rich and poor communities raises fears about concentrations of poverty and social exclusion, particularly if the geography of these communities is such that they and their residents are increasingly isolated from urban services and employment centres. Social exclusion in our metropolitan areas and the government responses to it are commonly thought to be the proper domain of social and economic policy. The role of urban planning is typically neglected, yet it helps shape the economic opportunities available to communities in its attempts to influence the geographical location of urban services, infrastructure and jobs. The location of these dimensions of the urban environment plays a pivotal role in determining a community’s access to public transport, employment, and services and hence the wellbeing of its residents.
State of Australian Cities Research Network and the author/s