Human settlements

Independent report to the Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Beeton RJS (Bob), Buckley Kristal I, Jones Gary J, Morgan Denise, Reichelt Russell E, Trewin Dennis
(2006 Australian State of the Environment Committee), 2006

3. Human settlements

In this section

Australia’s human settlements take a variety of forms. The large capital cities dominate in population terms, but many Australians live in smaller towns and remote areas. All are part of the environment and, as Australia’s population continues to increase, all are a source of pressure on Australia’s environment. Because the majority of people live in cities and towns, the environment within them also has a direct effect on people’s quality of life, including health and access to services and opportunities such as education, employment and health care.

A major pressure on and of Australia’s human settlements is in coastal regions near the capital cities, where the population is growing faster than the national average. This pressure is accentuated by increasing consumption of energy, land, water and other products dependent on natural resources. Wastes are increasing despite efforts at recycling. A sustainable human environment requires greater attention to urban design and a reduction in net consumption. In some areas of Australia where pressures are high, progress has been made in recognising the importance of urban form and infrastructure; the challenge is implementing this insight.