The Australian Coastal Councils Association builds on a solid record of coastal research and achievement.
While operating as the National Sea Change Taskforce the organisation made substantial progress in relation to issues of concern to Australia’s coastal communities, including:
- Placing the issue of coastal growth and its impact on councils and communities on the national political agenda.
- Facilitating the exchange of information and experiences between Australia’s coastal councils on issues of mutual concern.
- Mounting an advocacy campaign leading into the 2007 Federal election, which led to the development of the Growing Regions Plan by the Howard Government and the ALP’s Caring for Our Coasts Plan. The campaign also led to the House of Representatives Inquiry into coastal management issues including the impact of population growth.
- Proposing a Community Infrastructure Fund to assist councils in coastal areas meet increasing demand for community infrastructure and community facilities. This was one of the factors that led to the Federal Government’s $1b Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program.
- Commissioning groundbreaking research into the impact of non-resident populations on coastal communities. This study led to a decision by the Australian Bureau of Statistics to include an additional topic in the next scheduled Census on the ownership and use of second residences.
- Commissioning a major study by a leading environmental law firm into the legal risks associated with planning for climate change. This study provided guidance on how to limit exposure to legal risks associated with coastal planning.
- Commissioning a study by Curtin University which developed strategies to assist coastal councils to retain the values and character of coastal communities.
- Many of the Taskforce research projects have been used to inform and support the organisation’s on-going advocacy efforts at State and Federal government level.
- The Taskforce has made strong representations to Federal and State inquiries into matters affecting coastal councils, including the Productivity Commission inquiry into Disaster Recover Funding.
- Lobbying successfully in 2015 for the national Census to be retained in its existing form in response to a proposal that the Australian Government replace the Census with sample surveys as a cost-saving measure.
Priority Coastal Issues
Research studies and surveys undertaken by the organisation have identified the following priority issues facing coastal councils:
- Coastal erosion – Lack of clarity on government policies in relation to coastal erosion is nominated as a major issue by most coastal councils.
- Infrastructure – Coastal councils face Infrastructure gaps across a broad range of areas and lack the capacity to finance shortfalls through existing revenue sources.
- Community wellbeing – Many coastal communities experience high levels of socio economic disadvantage. Options for young people in particular tend to be limited, with many leaving to complete their education or to look for employment. Coastal communities are also ageing faster than the rest of Australia.
- Governance – Coastal areas are subject to complex cross jurisdictional planning and management arrangements. The role and responsibilities of each tier of government are not well defined or coordinated.
- Coastal environments under pressure – Councils need additional resources to deal with loss of habitat and degradation of wetlands in coastal areas.
The Australian Coastal Councils Association enables coastal councils to work together to tackle these issues and add their support to the coastal advocacy campaign to be conducted in the period leading up to the Federal election.