Almost six million people live in Australian coastal areas outside Australia’s capital cities. The rate of growth in these areas is more than 60% higher than the national average and is gathering momentum.

This rate of growth is not sustainable. Councils in high growth coastal areas do not have sufficient resources to keep pace with increasing demand for infrastructure, such as roads, water and sewerage. They also lack adequate services, such as public transport, health care, emergency services and education facilities.

Apart from population growth, many coastal communities face the added impact of a dramatic increase in the level of tourism. International tourism is forecast to become Australia’s largest export earning industry sector by the year 2007.

While tourism injects revenue into the local commercial economy and helps to generate employment opportunities it does not contribute to the cost of public infrastructure needed to meet the needs of visitors. The burden of expanding infrastructure capacity to meet the growth in tourism inevitably falls on local ratepayers.

There is a risk that the current lack of effective measures for planning, funding and managing rapid population and tourism growth in coastal areas will lead to long-term degradation of the coastal environment. It could also lead to the eventual loss of identity, character and lifestyle values of many coastal communities.

The ‘sea change’ phenomenon is a national issue that is impacting on coastal communities in every state in Australia. The National Sea Change Taskforce believes it can only be addressed effectively through a commitment on the part of local, State and Federal governments to work collaboratively to ensure that coastal development occurs in a sustainable way.

Sea Change Sustainability Charter

The Sea Change Sustainability Charter was adopted at a Special General Meeting of Members held at Port Douglas on 3 April 2006. It seeks the commitment of all spheres of government to a collaborative national response to sea change growth.

The Sea Change Sustainability Charter represents an important step towards development of a policy framework that integrates the environmental, social and economic wellbeing of the Australian coastline and its communities with the timely funding and delivery of hard and soft infrastructure.

Click here to view the Sea Change Sustainability Charter. pdf

Taskforce Objectives

The objectives of the National Sea Change Taskforce are to:

  1. Support and advance the interests of coastal councils and their constituencies

  2. Provide national leadership in addressing the impact of the ‘sea change’ phenomenon

  3. Work collaboratively with local State and Federal Governments to develop a coordinated approach to managing population and tourism growth in coastal areas.

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