About the program
The Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities is responsible for the management of the $10.1 million Measuring Sustainability program. The Measuring Sustainability program was announced as a measure under the Sustainable Australia - Sustainable Communities: A Population Strategy for Australia in the 2011-12 Budget.
The strategy recognised that to build a sustainable Australia we need improved information about our economy, environment and society, and the linkages between them, to better inform decisions and policy making. We also need to take a longer-term view and consider how actions and decisions today affect the opportunities available to future generations.
The Measuring Sustainability program supports these objectives by establishing a National Sustainability Council and a set of sustainability indicators for Australia.
The program offers a comprehensive and integrated approach to measuring and monitoring sustainability in Australia. It will provide information on current and emerging economic, environmental and social issues - and the linkages between them - to support decision-making and planning at national and community levels.
National Sustainability Council
The National Sustainability Council was established by the Australian Government in October 2012 as an independent, expert body to provide advice on sustainability issues. It reports to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.
The council's key role is to deliver a public report against a set of sustainability indicators for Australia every two years. The expertise of the council will help ensure that the reports are relevant, useful and accessible to communities, business and industry, and governments.
The council will also provide interim, targeted advice on sustainability issues at the request of the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, and advice on potential improvements to the sustainability indicators over time as new data and methodologies become available.
Members of the council have been appointed due to their expertise across one or more of the social, economic or environmental dimensions of sustainability and understanding of issues impacting Australia's sustainability more broadly.
Sustainability indicators for Australia
Sustainability requires that the wellbeing of society - the combination of community liveability, environmental sustainability and economic prosperity - is maintained or improved over time. Measuring sustainability is about monitoring how each of these is tracking over time - or, put another way, measuring our stock of social and human, natural and economic 'capital'.
The Australian Government has developed a set of sustainability indicators for Australia that will provide information about our:
- social and human capital (skills and education; health; employment; security; institutions, governance and community engagement)
- natural capital (climate and atmosphere; land, ecosystems and biodiversity; natural resources; water; waste)
- economic capital (wealth and income; housing; transport and infrastructure; productivity and innovation).
The development of Australia's sustainability indicators has taken into account domestic and international best practice, and has included consultation with state and local governments, academic and research institutions, business and industry, and non-government and community organisations.
Find out more
- A National Sustainability Council for Australia - Media release, 23 October 2012
- Measuring Sustainability Fact Sheet (PDF - 3766KB) |  l(Word - 39KB) - October 2012
- Budget Media Release - May 2011
- Sustainable Australia - Sustainable Communities: A Sustainable Population Strategy for Australia
Sustainability Policy & Measurement Section
Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
GPO Box 787
Canberra ACT 2601
Or via email: MeasuringSustainability@environment.gov.au