The 20 things that threaten Melbourne’s liveability
4 Jun 2015
These are the 20 issues that could threaten Melbourne's liveability – and you will find many of them already on our doorstep.
The first preliminary report from the city's "chief resilience officer", Toby Kent, outlines nine "acute shocks" and 11 "chronic stresses" that could rock and weaken the city in the future.
There are concerns Melbourne could one day be hit with an influenza pandemic or a widespread cyber attack. But many of our future challenges are already ringing alarm bells today, including "growing social deprivation" and diminishing housing affordability.
Influenza pandemic: A deadly virus outbreak in Melbourne could see the city shut down as we know it, with public transport terminated, sporting matches cancelled and schools closed. The chief resilience officer said an influenza pandemic might cause the "greatest problems" in the inner-city, where large numbers of people live and work.
Lower rates of community participation: The time demands of modern life, combined with increasing numbers of new arrivals to the city, has resulted in a drop in the percentage of Melburnians who belong to a sporting club or volunteer.
Unemployment: Melbourne's unemployment rate increased from 4.9 per cent in December 2010 to 6.5 per cent in December 2014. Melbourne's current youth unemployment rate is 14.2 per cent.
Family violence: Across Victoria, there was an 8 per cent increase in reports of family violence in the year 2013-2014. Family violence is the leading cause of death and disability in Victorian women under 45 and costs the economy more than $3 billion each year.
Cyber attack: This is an "emerging risk" for Melbourne, especially for the business sector, according to the chief resilience officer.
Increasing social inequality: There are concerns about a growing divide between those living in middle and inner suburbs and those on the city's fringes, who often have to endure long car commutes to work everyday. There are calls for more resources to be put into car pooling networks.
Chronic illness: The rates of heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, stroke, diabetes and depression are all predicted to rise.
Age-related diseases and disability: More Victorians will face sickness and disability as the population ages. (The number of Australians reaching their 100th birthday grew by 490 people in the year until June 2014).
Climate change: As temperatures rise over the coming decades it is expected Melbourne will have to survive with less drinking water. We can also expect more weather-related disasters, such as heatwaves, floods and bushfires.
Alcohol and drug abuse: Across Victoria, heavy drinking among young adults is rising significantly, from approximately 25 per cent of young adults in 2002 to more than 40 per cent in 2009.
Increasing pressure on healthcare: Extreme climate events such as heatwaves will exacerbate the strain on medical services. Hundreds of Victorians have already died during summer hot spells, including 374 people whose deaths were blamed on the heat before the Black Saturday bushfires.
Transport infrastructure emergency: During past heatwaves, tram tracks have buckled and power outages and fires played havoc with train timetables, crippling the transport network.
Heatwaves: The Mallee district is considered at greater risk from extreme heat, as are residents and workers in the city's skyscrapers.
Electricity supply disruption: Melbourne relies heavily on electricity infrastructure located outside the city. If air-conditioning systems were paralysed by a widespread power outage, almost 300,000 people could be forced to evacuate their offices in the CBD.
Radicalisation and terrorism: Victorians are not only flying overseas to join terrorism groups, now there are allegations of home grown terrorism plots being hatched in Melbourne's suburbs.
Hazardous materials incident: More likely to be an immediate risk in heavily industrialised municipalities, such as Brimbank.
Marine pollution: A danger mostly for beachside areas and industries reliant on a healthy ocean environment.
Bushfire: Not just a problem in country areas, but for people on the suburban fringe of Melbourne with back fences looking out over grass paddocks.
Flood: A risk for those living near the beach or along Melbourne's major rivers or creeks. A study has found more than a $1 billion damage could be inflicted on waterside communities in the next 90 years and that parts of Rosebud foreshore could be completely submerged by 2100.
Loss of green space and drinking water catchments: Melbourne's growing urban sprawl is putting pressure on the supply of fresh air and clean water. A recent study found Melbourne's suburbs already have some of the lowest urban tree canopy ratios in Australia.
The position of chief resilience officer is a $236,544-per-year role, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, with the end goal of producing a Resilience Strategy for Melbourne.