Community and sustainability in our vertical villages

Community and sustainability in our vertical villages

On Monday, February 12, I had the privilege of welcoming an assembly of leaders to the Strata Community Association’s Senior Leaders Forum, held in the heart of our city.

This gathering, spanning two days, cast a spotlight on the evolving landscape of strata management, and its critical role in the sustainable development of urban communities like Southbank, and in particular large-scale complex buildings.

Our city, with more than 76,000 residential apartments, is a testament to the allure of vertical living. Indeed, more than 83 per cent of Melbourne’s residents choose this lifestyle, a choice I personally resonate with as a Docklands apartment dweller.

This preference reflects not just a trend but a significant shift towards a compact, efficient, and socially vibrant urban life.

However, the charm of high-rise living comes with its unique challenges, particularly when it comes to fostering a sense of community on the ground level.

In Southbank, where the streets are alive with an array of interactions, building a cohesive community requires more than just shared postal codes. It demands an additional layer of effort, a commitment to nurturing connections not just within, but between the towering structures we call home.

The Senior Leaders Forum delved into these issues, aligning closely with the City of Melbourne’s own ambitions, especially in areas like accessible affordable housing, climate change, and the critical retrofitting of buildings to meet modern sustainability standards. These discussions are not academic; they are vital, touching directly on the lives of every residents.

Our city’s skyline, dotted with cranes, signals robust growth and development. Yet, this physical expansion underscores a pressing need for effective strata management, ensuring the wellbeing and satisfaction of our residents.


The recent construction boom, promising more than 6200 new dwellings, is a double-edged sword. It provides much-needed homes and jobs but also highlights the urgent necessity for sustainable urban planning and community integration.


Tackling these challenges is essential, and success hinges on our collective effort to enhance our community. The power of collaboration and open dialogue is evident in the achievements of groups like Southbank3006, who, in partnership with the City of Melbourne, have significantly fostered community spirit.

Our learnings and shared experiences to shape communities here will offer unique opportunities to advance the development of new areas like Fishermans Bend and Macaulay.

Yet, as we forge ahead, we’re confronted with the reality of our environmental impact. Buildings are the silent giants of carbon emissions, accounting for 66 per cent of the city’s total.

Our ambitious goal to decarbonise the grid by 2030 and achieve zero net emissions by 2040 hinges on our ability to retrofit existing structures. This task is daunting but necessary, as more than 80 buildings annually need upgrading to meet these targets – a stark leap from the current average of seven.

Collaboration with the strata sector is vital in navigating this path to sustainability. Our Retrofit Melbourne plan, is not just a city project; it’s a community mission. We must co-design this journey with the myriad owners, managers, and residents who make up our city’s fabric.

The forum was not just a meeting of minds but a call to action. The decisions made by our strata leaders resonate through the lives of thousands, shaping the legacy of our urban landscape.

As we continue to build up, we must also reach out, ensuring that our vertical communities are integrated into the bustling life of Southbank and beyond. This integration is crucial for the health, happiness, and sustainability of our urban environment.

The SCA’s Senior Leaders Forum was a reminder of our shared responsibility. As residents, and leaders, we must work together to ensure that Southbank, and Melbourne at large, remains not just a collection of buildings, but a community of diverse, vibrant, and sustainable homes. •

Together, we can shape a future that is as green and welcoming as the ground beneath our feet.

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