Living sustainably

Sustainable Regional Development program

About the program

The Australian Government is investing $29.2 million over four years to promote sustainable development in high growth regions across Australia through the Sustainable Regional Development program. This program is one of the measures under Sustainable Australia - Sustainable Communities: A Population Strategy for Australia. The program will facilitate strategic assessments under Australia's national environmental law - the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The focus of this program is to protect Matters of National Environmental Significance and is to be delivered through regional sustainability planning in selected high growth regions.

Why are sustainable regional communities important?

Sustainable regional communities are places that meet the needs of its current residents, whilst also being responsive to future changes in communities and their needs. Australia as a nation is experiencing significant changes in our population and economy. This means that more than ever there is the need to plan and respond to change to create places where people want to live now and in the future.

The key challenge facing many developing regions around the country is the need to respond to population and economic growth, whilst managing impacts to the environment. This has highlighted for many regional communities the need to work with all levels of government and the private sector to adopt a more collaborative and streamlined approach to protect the environment. By addressing environmental, social, and economic factors through long-term strategic planning, these pressures can be addressed in an effective and positive way.

How will the program support developing sustainable regional communities?

The Sustainable Regional Development program will work to promote a holistic approach to planning and development in selected regional communities around the country. The program will bring together all levels of government and the community to share information and encourage an integrated and targeted approach to sustainability. This will achieve long-term sustainable development in regional areas experiencing, or set to experience, high growth.

The program will help deliver effective and responsive planning to address the challenges of population and economic growth. The program aims to protect Matters of National of Environmental Significance whilst helping to streamline environmental approvals. This will provide greater certainty for businesses, and state and local governments, encouraging investment in housing, infrastructure and natural resource development in these high growth regions.

Who will be involved?

The Australian Government will work with state and local governments, and the community to coordinate the sharing of information and achieve the objectives of the Sustainable Regional Development program. State governments will play a key role in identifying potential regions, and regional sustainability planning will build on existing state and local planning and environmental protection processes. Local governments will take the lead in facilitating engagement in their communities. Additional support may be provided to one local government authority in each region through a non-competitive grant. Each grant will support activities to further increase the capacity and engagement of the community in the program.

Find out more

Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999


For more information contact:

Regional Sustainability Planning
Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
GPO Box 787
Canberra ACT 2601