A sustainable population strategy for Australia: issues paper and appendices

Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, 2010

Issues paper

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Purpose of this issues paper

This paper and its three appendices - reports from each of the independent Sustainable Population Advisory Panels (the panel reports) - identifies and explores issues around Australia’s changing population.

The paper was designed to draw out community views about the challenges and opportunities created by changes in our population. This will help to inform the government as it develops a Sustainable Population Strategy (the strategy) in 2011.

The panel reports are an important and integral part of this issues paper. In July 2010, Minister Burke appointed three panels as part of establishing an open national dialogue on a Sustainable Population Strategy. The Advisory Panels were:

  • Demographic Change and Liveability, chaired by Professor Graeme Hugo,
  • Productivity and Prosperity, chaired by Ms Heather Ridout, and
  • Sustainable Development, chaired by the Hon Bob Carr.

While the reports from each of these panels canvass these issues in significant detail and from different perspectives, this paper distils the major issues identified in the reports. The full reports are available at www.environment. gov.au/sustainablepopulation

Membership of the panels is at Attachment A.

This paper outlines why Australia needs a Sustainable Population Strategy and provides contextual information about changes in Australia’s current and future population as background for the discussion. It then explores the impact of population changes from the perspective of three key dimensions: environmental sustainability; economic sustainability and sustainable communities.

The questions contained in boxes throughout the paper were designed to assist in framing input into the development of the Sustainable Population Strategy and should be used as a guide only. 380 submissions were received on the Issues Paper which helped to inform the government's development of the strategy, Sustainable Australia - Sustainable Communities; A Sustainable Population Strategy for Australia.

In this paper, sustainability refers to the maintenance or improvement of wellbeing now and for future generations.

Wellbeing is a term aimed at capturing all of the economic, environmental and social aspects of people’s lives. It is not a single measure, but rather can be viewed through a wide range of indicators across each or all of the three aspects.

A sustainable population is one where changes in the population’s size, distribution or composition are managed to provide for positive economic, environmental and social outcomes.

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