Articles on Cities & Policy

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In low-rent outer suburbs, almost one in six households could not afford to keep their house cool and went without meals. ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock

Private renters are doing it tough in outer suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne

While politicians ignore calls to raise Newstart, alarming levels of financial stress among private renters, particularly in low-rent outer suburbs, show why current welfare payments are too low.
The damaging effects of housing disadvantage on people’s mental health can persist even years after their housing situation improves. Lovely Bird/Shutterstock

Poor housing leaves its mark on our mental health for years to come

The difficulties for people facing housing disadvantage don't end as soon as their situation improves. They are at higher risk of poorer mental health years or even decades later.
Imagine Hyde Park in Sydney without its tree cover … the impact on this space and the many people who spend time in it would be profound. EA Given/Shutterstock

Increasing tree cover may be like a ‘superfood’ for community mental health

Cities around Australia have plans to increase their green space, but new research shows not all green spaces are equal. Good tree cover is better than grassed areas for residents' mental health.
Australian cities could lose some of their most common trees to climate change. Jamen Percy/Shutterstock

Our cities need more trees, but some commonly planted ones won’t survive climate change

Thirty tree species make up more than half of Australia's urban forests. Some won't survive climate change, so cities must plant a more diverse mix of the right species to preserve their tree cover.
Car parking occupies a large proportion of urban areas, and cities cannot keep sacrificing so much space to meet demand. Neil Sipe

What can our cities do about sprawl, congestion and pollution? Tip: scrap car parking

The global trend is to free up valuable city space by reducing parking and promoting other forms of transport that don't clog roads and pollute the air. Australian cities are still putting cars first.
The clearest change following the introduction of 24-hour public transport was that people were observed to be getting more intoxicated. bbernard/Shutterstock

All-night public transport hasn’t reduced alcohol-related harm in Melbourne

A program aimed at getting people home safely has cost A$300 million but has had little impact, aside from increased intoxication in CBD venues. Rates of assaults and road crashes are much the same.
Government ministers responded to the construction industry crisis by announcing a national approach to implementing recommendations of a report they commissioned in 2017 and received 17 months ago. Bianca De Marchi/AAP

Ministers fiddle while buildings crack and burn

The construction industry crisis didn't happen overnight. Authorities have been on notice for years to fix the problems that now have the industry itself calling for better regulation.
Public libraries can use their status as community hubs to engage the public in scenario planning for the future. Mosman Library/Flickr

How public libraries can help prepare us for the future

We commonly think of libraries as repositories of knowledge accumulated over centuries. But the public library also connects people in ways that can enable communities to plan for their future.
Many commuters already travel from regional cities to work in capital cities like Melbourne so what impacts will fast rail have? Alpha/Flickr

Regional cities beware – fast rail might lead to disadvantaged dormitories, not booming economies

While governments focus on how to ease congestion and make affordable housing more accessible for workers in our biggest cities, fast rail could be a mixed blessing for regional cities.
Dalian is an emerging city and tourist destination in China, but its urban spaces could be improved in many ways. Paul J Martin/Shutterstock

China can learn from Australian urban design, but it’s not all one-way traffic

Australia has well established urban design guidelines, whereas many Chinese cities don't have any – and it shows. But Australia can also learn from China.
Building construction and demolition create enormous amounts of waste and much of it goes into landfill. Sytilin Pavel/Shutterstock

We create 20m tons of construction industry waste each year. Here’s how to stop it going to landfill

China has put the onus back on Australia to take responsibility for our waste, and Germany has shown us the way with extended producer responsibility for construction and demolition waste.
Most new houses being built in Australia do no better than comply with the minimum energy performance required by regulations. Brendon Esposito/AAP

Australia’s still building 4 in every 5 new houses to no more than the minimum energy standard

Australia requires a minimum six-star energy rating for new housing. New homes average just 6.2 stars, so builders are doing the bare minimum to comply, even as the costs of this approach are rising.
The more comfortable women feel about breastfeeding in public, the better for both babies and society. Maxim Krivonos/Shutterstock

Here’s how to make our cities breastfeeding-friendly

Promoting the benefits of breastfeeding isn't enough when uncomfortable and uninviting public places deter mothers. Places that help them feel comfortable breastfeeding have several key features.
People between the ages of 25 and 34 are the largest group of woman who find themselves homeless. Oleg Golovnev/Shutterstock

‘I didn’t want to be homeless with a baby’: young women share their stories of homelessness

The largest group of homeless women is between the ages of 25 and 34, and family violence is most often the cause. Their stories testify to the dangers and stresses of not having a place to call home.
The Mascot Towers building in Sydney’s inner south is cordoned off after residents were evacuated following the discovery of cracks in the building. Bianca De Marchi/AAP

Buck-passing on apartment building safety leaves residents at risk

Regulations that are meant to protect residents from building failures and fires have been found wanting. All governments must take responsibility for fixing the defective regime they created.
Residents play Pimp my Suburb, an exercise in engaging the community in achieving higher density while preserving what they love about their neighbourhood. Anthony Duckworth-Smith

Playing games? It’s a serious way to win community backing for change

Faced with local planning changes like infill development people often fear they could lose the neighbourhood they love. But serious games are proving effective in giving locals a say in their future.

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