Serving Yarra's Community

Woman and children at swimming pool

Strategic intent

Council provides many of the local human services and facilities important to the community’s health and wellbeing. This includes ensuring early childhood health, education and development, providing support and opportunities for younger adults, supporting positive ageing, as well as assisting older residents to remain in their homes. Sports and recreation facilities are also important to local wellbeing.

Yarra today

Yarra’s community

Yarra is a great place to live and raise families, with access to a wide range of services, support as well as facilities, and a diverse community with a mix of ages, cultures and households.

Council supports community wellbeing through many of its services – particularly to families and children, youth and older people as well as residents with a disability.  These services range from ensuring access for all to basic services as well as targeted support for high-needs groups.

In Family and Children’s services, Council provides Maternal and Child Health Services for all residents with young children, as well as meeting local needs through Council run preschools, child care centres, after school programs and youth programs and support services. Aged and Disability services provides support to older residents in Yarra such as home care, personal care, respite care, delivered meals and community transport.

Public health services are also vital to maintaining community health, such as immunisations, inspections of food premises, controlling infectious diseases or monitoring retailers to prevent the sale of tobacco to children.

Local recreation, leisure and sports facilities – the range, standard and capacity – are important to supporting community wellbeing. Council provides 3 ‘leisure’ Centres – at Collingwood, Fitzroy and Richmond – as well as the Burnley Golf Course, 17 sports grounds, an athletics track and 3 lawn bowls facilities.

Community facilities are central to running Council and community services as well as providing meeting and activity space for Yarra’s many community groups.

Health and wellbeing

Despite a generally well-to-do community, Yarra residents have a life expectancy below the Victorian average. The most recent data estimates that a male child born today has a life expectancy of 78.8 years compared to the Victorian average of 80.0 years, while a female child has a life expectancy of 83.9 years compared to the Victorian average of 84.3 years.

Healthy weight and physical activity are major contributors to good health. Poor diet and inactivity directly contribute to chronic diseases including cardio-vascular disease, diabetes and cancer. Access to good foot and bike paths supports more active populations.

Mental health is a major source of poor health across Australia, and is estimated to account for one-third of the poor health in Yarra (Disability Adjusted Life Years).

Yarra has the 7th highest level of alcohol related assaults in Victoria as well as high levels of alcohol-related Emergency Department presentations (almost twice the State level). Research is suggesting that a higher density of liquor licences in a given precinct increases the problems from alcohol.
Consequences of illicit drug use are a significant local health issue whilst drug dealing and associated crime have a major impact on the sense of safety and amenity of local areas.

Each Council is required to prepare a Municipal Public Health Plan (MPHP) every four years under the Health Act (1958) setting out local health issues and challenges, and how Council and local services will work to address these.

Council will continue to work with its partners to develop evidence based approaches to reducing alcohol related harm. This will include working with community health services and Victoria Police, advocacy to the State Government as well as working through the IMAP group (four inner urban Councils) to develop a regional approach to managing the negative impacts of alcohol.

Social justice

Council has a strong commitment to achieving social justice outcomes for our residents: improving the opportunity and capacity for citizens to participate equally in our society. Council will continue its work with the community sector and other levels of government to challenge discrimination, and address disadvantage, whether based on income, age, gender, cultural background or different abilities.

In particular, Council has been working with existing and emerging migrant communities as well as Yarra’s indigenous community. Through local projects, Council’s Community Grants Program and building the relationships between residents, service providers and Council, more opportunities are available for residents to be active in their community.

The Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities, alongside other State and Commonwealth legislation such as the Disability Act provides clear values and processes to guide Council and the community. Programs such as A Fairer Victoria and the Commonwealth’s work on social inclusion are providing support to community projects.

Different needs and attributes

Inclusion is focused on how we ensure all residents can participate in their community – regardless of age, gender, income, education, skills, language skills or disability. It relates to the concept of exclusion which is concerned with the multiple and linked problems many people face, such as unemployment, bad health and poor housing.

Yarra is home to a generally affluent community. ‘Gentrification’ has turned Yarra from working class to middle class suburbs, as more educated and professionally-employed people choose to move to inner-city suburbs for their ‘bohemian’ character and proximity to work, night-life and services.
According to Australian Taxation Office figures, Yarra has the 5th highest average, as well as median, wage in Victoria.

In the latest Census, over 2,500 residents identified that they needed some assistance in core activities (self-care, movement or communication). Almost two-thirds of these residents were aged 65 years or older. Ensuring public spaces and services are accessible to people with different abilities is vital to all residents being able to participate in their communities.

Many Council and community services, especially child care and Neighbourhood Houses, are central to ensuring widespread participation in community life.

Affordable housing

Central to Yarra’s diversity is social and affordable housing as well as access to employment. In 1993, Yarra’s median house price was 23% higher than the Melbourne median. In 2007, Yarra’s median house price was 63% higher.

The decline in the affordability of housing is reducing the diversity of our community, with fewer older residents and people on lower incomes able to live here. More people with jobs in Yarra need to travel in from outside the City.

Public housing

A large proportion of Yarra’s population are public housing tenants. There are just under 5,000 public housing dwellings in Yarra comprising 13% of Yarra’s dwellings, and 7% of all Victoria’s public housing stock. Significantly, 33% of Victoria’s high-rise public housing is in Yarra.

Yarra is Victoria's most socially and economically diverse community – a large very-disadvantaged population lives alongside significant affluence. Yarra has more high and more low-income households than the Melbourne average. Yarra is the only municipality that has a high proportion of its population living in very disadvantaged neighbourhoods – 9% of residents live in a collector district with a disadvantage index value below 700 (a value of 1,000 is the average for Australia).

With a decline in funding for new public housing during the 1990’s and 2000’s, there has been a relative decline in the amount of public housing. This has led to public housing being prioritised to those with the greatest needs. High-rise public housing has a high concentration of the greatest disadvantage.

A current focus is advocating for increased public housing renewal projects and integration into the general community. New Commonwealth Government programs promise a significant renewed funding for social and affordable housing.

Way forward

Council will employ the following Strategies, will measure progress through these Strategic Indicators and proposes some Initiatives to achieve the Strategic Objective of Serving Yarra’s Community.


Council’s work to achieve this Strategic Objective will include the following strategies:

  • Create community hubs including children’s services and facilities for parents and children
  • Be a leader in local government, ensuring social justice principles are fundamental to our community services
  • Deliver accessible and integrated services to support our community
  • Improve community facilities to support local services and community activity
  • Ensure access to a range of quality recreational and sporting places, spaces and activities
  • Review and improve Council’s services to ensure they are cost-effective, accessible & appropriately targeted
  • Encourage social inclusion through understanding and addressing local needs
  • Advocate for, and participate in, affordable housing initiatives

Strategic Indicators

Council’s progress towards this Strategic Objective will in part be measured and reported through these Indicators:

  • Timeliness of delivery of Council's home care, personal care and respite care services for older people and people with a disability – target 95%
  • Council long day care places occupied by Yarra residents: target 85%
  • Targets for Key Age and Stage Visits as per Department of Education and Early Childhood Development requirements: 12 months - 80%, 18 month - 88%, 2 years - 81% and 3.5 years - 77%
  •  At least 25 rental units available through Council’s affordable housing projects – 239 Brunswick St project and the Affordable Rental Housing Development Fund


Activities and projects Council proposes to work on over the next four years, subject to approval through the annual Budget process, include:

1. Complete the planned upgrade of Collingwood Leisure Centre

2. Deliver affordable housing as part of Council’s 3 year project

3. Work with State Government and service providers to develop the Atherton Gardens Hub

4. Plan for the development and operation of the Lourdes Children’s Centre

5. Contribute to the redevelopment of the North Richmond Community Health Centre which will include a new Maternal & Child Health Centre

6. Work with service providers and the local community to review and update Council strategies including the Municipal Public Health Plan, Municipal Early Years Plan and Youth Strategy

7. Council will plant new trees next to all playgrounds for long-term natural shade and construct shade structures where no current shade is provided for playgrounds

8. Continue to advocate for accessible housing and other disability provisions in the planning scheme

9. Gain government and community commitment to the development of an indoor sports facility as part of the overall gasworks site in North Fitzroy.

Further information
Julie Wyndham
Corporate Planner
9205 5090


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