What are human pollinators and why does Southbank need them?

What are human pollinators and why does Southbank need them?
Mary Kay Rauma

Southbank is full of gleaming buildings filled with amenities that sell apartments and attract renters. But what attention is paid to life after sales are finalised and leases are signed?

The truth is fancy gyms and theatre rooms are enhancements that do little to connect high-rise communities or enhance the quality of life for residents in meaningful ways.

These communities hold the powerful potential of community-building, connection of ideas and shared purpose – a combination integral to creating change on a large scale such as needed in Southbank. Each Southbank vertical village is an untapped resource, an orchard, if you will, of budding trees just waiting for the pollination necessary to bear fruit.

The missing link required to tap into community potential in Southbank are human pollinators – individuals whose responsibility is to listen, share and connect residents within and across each tower community with the purpose of connecting humans behind critical initiatives.

Initiatives such as creation of a neighbourhood master plan that prioritises humans over traffic, the consideration of quality of life for residents over development, and addressing mitigation of Southbank’s carbon footprint, the nation’s most densely populated suburb, in lieu of Australia’s target to double emissions reductions by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.

Currently, the closest thing to a human pollinator that Southbank offers its residents are event planners. For a nominal annual fee, residents benefit from a person devoted to planning events and “coaching” individuals how to run clubs catering to a gamut of interests anywhere from wine and tea tasting to painting and board games.


The human pollinator (HP) role would do more than merely connect residents through events, but work to foster connection, combat loneliness, and encourage problem solving at a community level.


HPs would be responsible for communicating and collaborating with HPs from other buildings as well as our City of Melbourne neighbourhood partner to build community strength and resiliency several ways:

Introductions: HPs are listeners and connectors. It’s their job to get to know their building communities on a personal level, identify problems or needs, and connect people to each other to generate solutions.

Better together: HPs will connect people with common goals to one another. The result is twofold: people will no longer feel frustration in facing a problem or issue alone, and the cohesiveness of tackling issues together will empower problem solving with local, state, and federal leaders.

Less tenant turnover: people who feel more connected to their community are more deeply invested in where they live and may be less inclined to move. A more permanent population builds strength and stability – this is better for residents, property managers and the community.

Support and crisis management: strong connections within a community help forge support networks that help individuals and families more effectively cope and share resources during times of crisis.

Combatting loneliness: perhaps the most powerful objective of the HP is to address the growing problem of loneliness. According to the organisation Ending Loneliness Together, one in three Australians feel lonely and 69 per cent of Australians recognise loneliness is a serious issue for our communities. Men and women are equally lonely with young and middle-aged people reporting the highest levels of loneliness.

The stigma associated with loneliness prevents people from talking about it and seeking the connections they yearn for. Yet loneliness is a known risk factor for poor health, compromised wellbeing, and lower workplace productivity. Combatting loneliness lies at the heart of HP’s purpose.

So how do we make this happen? As renters and owners, it is up to us to ask that attention to connectedness and community-building in vertical villages be prioritised just as much as other building amenities. Imagine the advertisement for a new apartment building touting a gym, pool, theatre room, public common areas and a dedicated full-time HP. My hope is that the future of high-rise living in Southbank values community-building, mental wellness, and human connection just as much as fancy amenities.

What are your thoughts? Please join Southbank3006 for free and let us know if you’d like to be a part of presenting this concept to Southbank’s owners’ corporation chairs and management companies. •

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