Country towns, sustainable or not?

Country towns, sustainable or not?

25 Aug 2010

The sustainability of Australia’s country towns will be examined at the third National Country Towns Conference in Bendigo in September.

Conference Big topics such as the re-emerging decentralisation debate, the power of social capital and refugee intakes, the lifecycle risks for boom/bust mining towns, growth in water-limited areas and planning for ageing populations are up for debate.

Social and environmental scientists, planners, water managers and local government representatives from across the nation will deliver 50 papers on how Australia’s towns are adapting or not to change.

Organiser Professor John Martin, who heads the Centre for Sustainable Regional Communities at La Trobe University, said the conference would provide vital perspectives from rural Australia on the nation’s population debate.

Professor Martin said sustainability was the key question facing small, large and medium towns and regional cities.

‘Whether they’re growing, staying the same or dying, towns everywhere are asking the same question -  how can they be sustainable, socially, economically and environmentally.’ he said.

‘We have towns in Victoria’s west Wimmera and in Western Australia welcoming refugees. We will examine what it is that allows those towns to feel safe to throw open their doors to people who may not be welcome elsewhere.

‘We have towns where up to 50 per cent of homes are owned by non-resident ratepayers. Think Margaret River and Busselton in Western Australia, Victor Harbour in South Australia and Mansfield in Victoria. We will look at what this means.

‘We have boom towns in mining areas whose livelihood is threatened by water shortages. ‘We have regional towns and cities where growth is accelerating perhaps beyond the capacity of current water and energy supplies.

‘We have towns looking to build their futures on decentralised energy generation and others that are rapidly going grey as the nation ages. ‘This conference will expose the many challenges and opportunities towns are facing and how they’re responding.’

The conference is on Sept 30-Oct 1 at La Trobe University’s Bendigo campus. Registrations close Sept 23. To register and for the conference program, go to

Media enquiries

Professor John Martin, Director, Centre for Sustainable Regional Communities

Ph 03 5444 7804 M 0421 584 313

To organise interviews with conference speakers contact

Genevieve Barlow M 0427 762 633

Issued by

Zerin Knight, Media Liaison, Ph (03) 5444 7375 F +613 5444 7526

M 0428 463 161 E




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