Changing Melbourne 2.0


Cities are dynamic, connected, and complex systems that are constantly evolving in many and varied ways. Melbourne, identified as the most liveable city in the world by The Economist's liveability ranking 2011-2015, is home to more than 4 million residents. Melbourne’s population is expected to grow to between 7.6 and 9.8 million in 2061. Melbourne is also one of the largest contributors to wealth and energy consumption in Australia. In this project, we use visual analytics to demonstrate how socio-demographic characteristics of Melbourne are changing over years. We use data from ABS Census 2006 and 2011 to provide a comparative analysis. We have developed a series of dot maps in which each dot is a person counted in the Census. Our goal here is to improve our understanding of Melbourne, as a “living” system, and to provide insights into creating a data-driven approach to urban design and planning. The project is supported by a joint seed funding from the Faculty of Engineering and Faculty of Information Technologies at Monash University in collaboration with Prof. Kim Marriott, Dr. Tim Dwyer, and Prof. Majid Sarvi.


Melbourne was home to the largest population growth in fringe suburbs over the period 2012–13, with South Morang, Craigieburn–Mickleham and Point Cook, each adding thousands of new residents. In 2011, there were an estimated 4.2 million people resident in Greater Melbourne, an increase of more than 400,000 in only five years since 2006. Population growth in Melbourne is not only limited to fringe suburbs. The two inner city areas in Australia with the largest population increases in 2012-2013 were both in inner Melbourne, City Melbourne and Southbank.


Australia has an ageing population. Melbourne is projected to have about 1 million people aged 65 years in 2031. Rosebud, Croydon, and Bentleigh are among the oldest suburbs in Melbourne. Ageing population can have many social and economic impacts in long term including shrinking workforce, increase in spending on health care, decrease in spending on consumer goods, etc. Older residents also have mobility limitations due to declining health conditions and functional impairments. In contrast, Millennials are also changing the face of the city. Parkville, Carlton, and City of Melbourne are among the suburbs with the lowest median ages. Studies have also shown that Millennials are more inclined toward an urban life style, more multimodal, and less likely to drive their own car.


A key component of every household economic wellbeing is income. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, housing, food and non-alcoholic beverages, and transport costs account for the highest household expenditure. In 2011, the median total income of a Melbournian household was $1,326 per week. Studies have shown that gentrification has become a significant factor, influencing housing costs, in some areas of Melbourne like Yarraville and Richmond. Understanding spatial distribution of household income and its change over time has great implication in city planning.


Australia has one of the most diverse population in the world. In 2011, over one in four of Australia's population were born overseas. Melbourne is the home for one of the world’s most culturally diverse communities. It is important to investigate spatial diversity or segregation patterns in cities in order to improve ethnic equity. Spatial patterns of ethnicity combined with income, employment opportunities, and health could reveal valuable insights on the socio-economic fabric of a society.

Developed at City Science research group at Monash University by Dr. Meead Saberi and Xianghui Hong in collaboration with Prof. Majid Sarvi, Prof. Kim Marriott, and Dr. Tim Dwyer