This population workshop took place in Melbourne's strongly multicultural northern suburbs, at a Community house open day in Thornbury. It deals with Australia's population and planning problems from the point of view of socially and ecologically sustainable future. What is causing Australia's very high population growth? How to preserve Australia's established multicultural communities? How to limit growth. Democracy and planning. Relocalisation and planning. Interactive with audience. Mark Allen studied town planning at the University of South Australia and has worked as a planner in three states. His frustration at the planning system's inability to deliver sustainable outcomes led him to leave the profession in order to concentrate on spreading awareness about the important role that town planning can play in mitigating climate change, biodiversity loss and social isolation. Mark's approach to sustainable planning is heavily influenced by two of his mentors, permaculture co-founder David Holmgren and labor MP Kelvin Thompson who advocates for a slower more manageable rate of population increase.
Melbourne's population is increasing by 100,000 a year and the population of Melbourne as a whole is set to double in just a few decades. So how will this be managed? Will there be new Prestons and Fitzroys where you can walk to a local baker or cycle to the library? Will there be new ethnic cultural hubs like Footscray and Richmond whereby new migrants can express their culture in meaningful communities while adding to the rich tapestry of our multicultural society? No, these people will be scattered like ashes in the wind to far off housing estates while facing the prospect of increasingly longer daily commutes. Alternatively they will be crammed into tiny flats and squeezed onto an ageing and already over-stretched public transport network. This is because the same ponzi-economic scheme that demands a massive rate of population growth cannot provide resilient sustainable communities. A new permaculture/ urban ecology approach is required.