From the Executive Summary: 

Coastal communities around Australia and around the world are struggling to plan for rapid population growth driven by internal migration from metropolitan cities and inland areas. Described as the “sea change” phenomenon by demographers Ian Burnley and Peter Murphy (2004), the implications of this movement are significant for the communities and the nation. 

Development pressures associated with rapid population growth offer opportunities for new in-migrants in the form of high quality open space but at the same time these opportunities pose threats to sensitive coastal processes and environments, including coastal waters, dunes, wetlands, and distinctive landscapes. Many coastal communities are surrounded by environments of national and international heritage importance, such as national parks, world heritage areas, and, increasingly, marine protected areas. These places are particularly vulnerable to inappropriate development which threatens biodiversity, cultural heritage sites, recreational and tourism values. 

The social implications of sea change migration are also profound. In spite of new population growth, many non metropolitan coastal communities are characterised by high levels of unemployment, lower than average household incomes, and greater levels of socio-economic disadvantage along with higher numbers of seniors than other parts of Australia. Increasing population growth and development activity in these areas is not translating to long term economic gains usually associated with population expansion. Social cleavages are occurring between existing residents and newcomers and between wealthier, usually retiree, sea changers and those lower income groups who have been pushed out of expensive metropolitan areas.

This report highlights these issues and examines how existing coastal policy and planning frameworks in Australia are responding to them.

Read the Report Meeting The Sea Change Challenge