Timothy F Smith, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems
Michael Doherty, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems
prepared for the 2006 Australian State of the Environment Committee, 2006
The suburbanisation of the Australian coast is a social process, being driven by migration, not only from our capital cities, but also from non-coastal regional centres and the bush. Pressures on Australia’s coastal communities also exist in the form of tourism and numerous natural pressures such as coastal erosion and flooding. While the state of the natural environment of ‘sea change’ communities is highly variable, there are a number of social impacts that have been recently highlighted such as competition for employment, and retiree disconnection from family support networks. All levels of government have acknowledged some of the problems facing coastal Australia, with many local councils joining together to form the National Sea Change Taskforce. However, ‘sea change’ is not an isolated phenomenon, it reflects the declining quality of life in Australia’s city suburbs and the economic decline of many non-coastal regional centres and the bush. If the magnitude and speed of the ‘sea change’ phenomenon destroys the very lifestyle that is driving Australians to the coast, where next will they turn and what legacy will be left behind?
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