Australia’s socio-economic trajectory in the thirty or so years after the Second World War resulted in relatively flat income differentials, strong welfare provision and a modestly differentiated urban structure based on access to mass home ownership. At the same time, while the opening up of Australia to non-Anglo immigration led to the development of distinctive housing sub-markets characterised by newly arrived groups, the overall outcome resulted in more ethnically diverse neighbourhoods rather than extreme concentrations. This picture has changed since the 1980s, coinciding with macro-economic and welfare policies that have significantly increased socio-economic differentials. The result, paralleling similar processes in comparable countries, has been an urban socio-spatial restructuring reflecting increased polarisation of incomes and wealth, the latter largely driven by property values. A key feature of this restructuring process has been a distinctive shift in the location of urban disadvantage away from the inner cities and into the middle and outer suburbs driven by gentrification and the concentration of ‘new economy’ employment in inner-city areas but underpinned by an increasingly financialised housing market and declining housing affordability. More recently still, the major Australian cities have experienced an unprecedented boom in multi-unit development. These new high-density markets are catering for specific sub-populations which nevertheless mirror the broader social cleavages opening up in these cities. The chapter explores the trajectory of some of these new urban socio-spatial divisions that point towards future patterns of Australian urban segregation and change, with a specific focus on Sydney, Australia’s largest city.
Robert Freestone, Bill Randolph and Andrew Wheeler
Australia’s urban research agenda has evolved with the emergence of urban studies since the 1960s. As a highly urbanized nation, Australia has confronted a succession of urban planning and policy issues with both continuities and disjunctures around themes of infrastructure, employment, housing, health, justice and environmental quality. Set against the distinctive features of Australian urbanization, this chapter focuses on the key institutional and intellectual events which have shaped key concerns of urban research scholarship since the early 2000s. It speculates about future needs and possible research pathways, while offering sobering caveats on the governance and funding challenges facing urban research in Australia. Keywords: Australia, Australian urbanization, Australian cities, urban planning in Australia, urban issues in Australia