The advent of the council’s new neighbourhood model heralds a rebirth for Southbank

The advent of the council’s new neighbourhood model heralds a rebirth for Southbank

By David Hamilton - Southbank3006 President

On November 22, Southbank3006 gathered with the City of Melbourne in Southbank for two important events.  

The first was the opening of the completed Children’s Playground, the most innovative and adventurous element of the Southbank Blvd Project. Lord Mayor Sally Capp, Cr Jamal Hakim, and council officers along with Southbank residents explored and revelled in this highly original addition to the neighbourhood. Sally unleashed the inner child in us all in a facility that is already drawing international attention as how to deliver a new dimension to inner-city family living.  

Anyone who has passed the playground knows it has become a magnet for families and children in Southbank east.  The council needs to be congratulated on its bold initiative to break the mould of tired old playgrounds with what it has delivered. A great first step to generating facilities across the precinct not just around Boyd which for many is an inaccessible and remote location. Hopefully the ACCA space redevelopment we have promoted will emerge in 2023 to provide a third focal point for families and community to gather, adding another major leap forward in green open space and liveability.

As important as the playground opening was, a far more important event was to unfold that evening, with the formal launch of the “neighbourhood model” and the feedback from the council’s participation consultation with Southbank residents across 2022. The neighbourhood model is important for residents because it is designed to make it easier for residents to find out about the council and its services and to enable connection between us to know what is happening in Southbank. This is enabled by the council’s web portal and resourcing of this process with a dedicated neighbourhood partner (Ash Lee) to work in the community.  

BUT our neighbourhood partner has a far more important audience and that is inside the council itself. The real delivery measure will be for a partner will be to get the council staff out and into the local community and eventually to be located physically in Southbank. That way they will know and understand our local needs and create services that are tailored to Southbank’s needs not a cookie cutter model of strategies and programs for the city.

The neighbourhood model and its resourcing by the council is, like the Southbank Children’s Playground, a new model and a bold initiative of the current councillors designed to break down the “US and THEM” mentality that has dominated resident and council interactions for decades.


“WE” (residents and council) have common problems that need to be solved.  WE need to work together thrashing out local solutions and not retreating into our bunkers reinforcing our cynicism about the other. Going forward the statement that “I’m from the CoM and I’m here to help you” will mean just that and WE as residents will need to be solutions-focused and accepting and open to council staff, and not hostile as they adapt to a new model.


Creating this process is the greatest challenge for the neighbourhood model and the council’s neighbourhood partners.

The conclusions from this first neighbourhood process for Southbank demonstrate that localisation is key. 

Overcoming decades of neglect and zero social and community development in the most densely populated brownfields development in Australia is the overarching issue that Southbank faces. A planning process, whichwas “development by development”-focused, ignored the social development of the area. This is not the fault of either the developers or the council. It is a systemic failure of a physical planning process for a brownfield “Capital City Zone” without any social context and ignoring the lessons of 50 years of new town developments. To date there has been minimal investment in the social infrastructure and the social development of the community of residents. The outcome of this process is that Southbank is the deprived south in the city.  

In 2023 for Southbank3006 the neighbourhood priorities that need urgent attention to achieve liveability and localisation are …

  • How do we generate localised services, from the council and other agencies? This is needed to reframe the social development in Southbank, so we are no longer the deprived south of the city. Let’s deal with the legacy dormitory suburb issue and make Southbank liveable, and part of the economy of the future.
  • The destination issues in the arts and hospitality industries and how residents and these bodies coexist.
  • How do Southbank3006 and residents work with the council to make Southbank a centre of low traffic neighbourhoods with the creative use of open space to enable community gardens and pocket parks to meet in?
  • Let’s jointly agree to abandon the City Road Masterplan and replace it with strategies to address the traffic management of the entire neighbourhood recognising that City Rd is a state highway and major arterial and it and Citylink need to be made to work as they were intended. 
  • What does the economy of the future look like for Southbank? It has to be more than coffee shops and after-hours dining. So, let’s work together to frame a long-term economic development strategy for all of Southbank recognising the educational and arts bodies located here can provide a foundation for this.

Southbank3006 stands ready to work alongside the council and its officers to facilitate these neighbourhood priorities.

As 2022 draws to a close we wish all in Southbank a wonderful peaceful festive season. We wish to thank all our members for their support and encouragement this year, and we can’t wait to see you at our 2023 events! Join us at

Join our Facebook Group