It's hard to stay relevant in today’s current environment. How can we interact with our communities and fellow Australians? How are things changing across Australia – demographically, socially, and generationally?
Mark McCrindle joins Hope 103.2's Hope Breakfast with Aaron and Erin to discuss the latest trends and changes facing Australian communities.
How is Australia changing and what have we missed when we talk about Australian communities?
We're certainly growing and changing as a society – if someone hadn't really looked at the demographics of Australia for 10 years, suddenly were a few million people more, new generations have emerged we're more culturally diverse as a nation than ever. It is important for everyone to observe these changes and remain relevant.
Are there things we are oblivious to when it comes to understanding our communities?
Well, oftentimes we miss that we are so much more mobile as a community in terms of how often we move home. We look at our parents who may have stayed in their family home their whole lives, but now we've got a third of the population renting, and the average renter in Australia stays just 1.8 years per home. Even those who are paying down a mortgage with family and kids are only staying for 8 years. We are moving across our communities more frequently which means we don't so much know our neighbours – in a sense we are losing that connection with our local neighbourhood but still have a strong need for local connection.
We have seen interesting shifts in some of our suburbs, particularly noticing that areas have become more multicultural in just 5 years. Can things shift that quickly?
Yes it has happened quickly and there is also a significant change in terms of housing structures. Now 1 in 4 homes are medium to high density housing, and more of those homes have been units or townhouses as opposed to detached homes. So much so that the population centre (where there are as many people east, west, south, and north in a city) identified in Sydney is now is now Ermington, just slightly east of Parramatta. Interestingly it hasn't moved from the last 6 years whereas before it was moving further west. Nowadays, for each home being built on the outside skirts of the city, we've got high density housing and units being built closer to the city.
How are we going generationally? What are some of the shifts that are taking place?
The workplace is certainly an area where we're seeing some significant change – Gen Ys are entering the workplace in big numbers and have a different attitude to work – they don't stay as long as used to be the case, with older generations now saying, "Where is their commitment?"
But at the same time we find that the generational space is in good health because we are connecting across those generations a bit more in our households, families, or shopping centres – we're bumping into a wider age range than used to be the case. People are older and ageing in Australia while we’ve also got record births. We're across the generations more in the public space which is a positive thing because each generation brings strength and their own vibrancy. It's important that we have these intergenerational spaces to connect in our society today.
Let’s talk a bit more about the Australian Communities Forum that you are hosting on 1 November 2013. You’ve mentioned in just a short time that there is clearly a lot we need to be informed about if we want to engage with our communities we need to understand them. Is this what you are aiming to do at the Forum?
Exactly right, this is Australia’s only one day forum focused on communities – held at Customs House, Circular Quay, Sydney with the City of Sydney and some great sponsors on board.
In a day we want to help Australians understand communities from a demographic perspective, the generational change, how to connect with workplace communities, and even how to connect with geographical communities. Learning how to communicate in these changed times is key, as well as learning how to meet the needs of our ever-changing communities.
We are focusing the Forum not just on community groups and charities but business people and those in the commercial world – they need to understand their customers who are communities, empowered, educated and on active on social media– how they can best connect and engage their needs.
For all of Australia’s communities in all their diversity, we want to give a snapshot and give some tools as to how you can understand and connect with community better.
Get the full interview with Aaron and Erin on Hope 103.2 here.
Click here to secure your last-minute registration for the Australian Communities Forum.