The State of Australian Cities 2012 report has been released and outlines the progress and performance of Australia’s 18 largest cities based on the 2011 census.

Within the document an urban design protocol for Australian cities, Creating Places for People – is a web-based tool that establishes 12 broadly agreed principles for quality urban places in the Australian context.

It is intended that these principles be applied to any project or location – whether in a large capital city, regional centre or rural town. The aim is ‘to create productive, sustainable and liveable places for people through leadership and the integration of design excellence’.

Some key findings in the report  were:

  • Since 1986, there has been a rise in the premium for living near the CBD of cities. In Sydney and Melbourne, a dwelling 50 kilometres from the city centre has doubled in value in real terms since then, while one close to the CBD has increased more than five-fold.
  • There has been an increase in the proportion of families with children living in higher density residential dwellings. In Sydney in 2011, 43 per cent of people living in flats, units or apartments were part of families with children.
  • New houses in Australia are possibly the largest in the world, eclipsing the United States.
  • However, there has been little or no growth for a decade and unit sizes have fallen.
  • Since 1996, house prices in Australia have increased faster and for the longest period since at least 1880.
  • In 1996, 60 per cent of house owners owned their house outright compared to 46 per cent in 2011.

Amongst the initiatives that are planned to encourage sustainability is the aim of improving the efficiency of new buildings and major renovations through the Building Code of Australia and Building Energy Efficiency Disclosure Act.

Green Building Council of Australia’s (GBCA) Chief Executive, Romilly Madew said:

“On current projections we can expect Australia to be home to more than 35 million people by 2050, with up to 85 per cent of the population residing in our cities. The way our cities operate has an enormous impact on our economy, our wellbeing, and our environment.

She added: “State of Australian Cities 2012 provides valuable insights into the current state of Australia’s cities. The next step is to agree on a set of nationally-consistent indicators and a set of best practice benchmarks, such as those already established in the Green Star - Communities rating tool. Working together in partnership to create pathways is the only way for us to ensure we create truly liveable, productive, resilient and sustainable cities,” Madew said.

Megan Motto, Chief Executive Officer of the industry association for professional services firms in the built and natural environment, Consult Australia, said the absence of visionary leadership, governance reform and investment will see Australians will continue to be denied adequate infrastructure and planning.


She said the report "underscores the need to refocus policy on the growth of our cities and the investments urgently needed today".

“Our attention is once again drawn to the fact that over 77 per cent of Australians live in cities with a population of more than 100,000; that cities produce 80 per cent of our national wealth.

“Governments must wake up to the fact that planning and funding the infrastructure our cities need to grow and prosper is not a luxury to be indulged only during a budget surplus.

“Investing in infrastructure supporting our cities is an investment in liveability, productivity, and in business within those cities.

“Given the frustrations many Australians face every day just to get to work, a more ambitious approach by governments delivering real benefits in our cities would be welcomed by many.

“Across Australia there are significant opportunities to deliver reform supporting a better quality of life for Australian’s living in our cities. In Victoria, Queensland and South Australia infrastructure investment has stalled while Sydney struggles against the red-tape nightmare created by 42 local councils.

“Securing a long-term approach to the prioritisation of our cities that lasts beyond any single election cycle or change in government is essential.

“The challenge to sustain momentum lies with government. Much more needs to be done to achieve the vision we seek for Australia’s cities,” said Motto.

A full copy of the report along with individual factsheets for each of the cities is now available at: