Results of the 2011 census were released last week, with some interesting findings for Melbourne and Victoria.  The census recorded a total of 3,999,982 Melburnians, up from 3,647,021, in 2006.  Wyndham experienced the highest growth with an increase of 43.3 per cent or 48,881 people.  The data also identified towns of Bacchus Marsh, Gisborne, Mount Macedon, Lancefield, Wandong and Kinglake – none of which are located within the Urban Growth Boundary – as being part of the Melbourne statistical area.

The cost of rental properties increased by 50 per cent, from $200.00 to $300.00, while monthly mortgage repayments increased by 34 per cent, from $1,811.00 to $1,343.00.  Approximately 11 per cent of households were spending more than 30 per cent of their income on housing costs.  Average household spending on transport increased to $193.00 per week or 16 per cent of total household expenditure.

The data revealed that households in the lowest quintile, 63 per cent of which are lone person households, spent an average of $559.00 per week, or 152 per cent of their income, on goods and services.  Single person households are also unable to take advantage of economies of scale that accompany shared accommodation and thus have higher expenditure on food and non-alcoholic beverages than larger households.

Interestingly, the data revealed there were 141,506 unoccupied private dwellings in the greater Melbourne area (9 per cent of total dwellings) and 934,471 across Australia (10.7 per cent of total dwellings).  With 40,000 households on the list for public housing, this seems like a huge waste of resources.  Perhaps it is time for a more innovative and collaborative approach to public housing.

These results highlight the importance of capturing actual population growth and channeling services and infrastructure to where it is needed most.  The increasing expenditure on transport also highlights the importance of greater public transport provision.

Enquiries Sophie Jordan (sbj@colliepl.com.au)