and the future

Here we talk about Merri-bek.

We look at how we are meeting the challenges we face and our focus for the future.

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Population, growth and the impacts 

In the last 15 years, Merri-bek’s population has grown by a third (34%). It is now estimated at 188,762 people.

Today over 1 in 3 residents in Merri-bek were born overseas. Other factors behind the increase are greater life expectancy and a growth in births.

Before COVID-19, our forecasts suggested our population will grow by another 23% by 2036. This will see our population increase to 228,425. That is an extra 42,658 future residents.

Population growth can make Merri-bek a less pleasant place to live. This is through worsening congestion, pedestrian safety and amenity. Transport also accounts for more than one quarter of Merri-bek’s carbon emissions.

We do not know yet what level of impact the COVID-19 pandemic will have on our population.

But we are planning for the services and infrastructure needed by more residents. We have strategies on:

  • transport and how we move around our city
  • maintaining and increasing parks and open spaces
  • reaching our zero carbon targets by 2040
  • housing accessibility, affordability and liveability.

Open space

We have one of the lowest rates of open space per person (28.3 sqm) in the metropolitan area. There are parts of Merri-bek where residents do not have access to public open space that they can walk to.

Our forecast population growth will continue to put pressure on access to open space. A Park Close to Home is helping more residents have quality open space nearby. You can read more about A Park Close to Home in the Parks close to your home section on our Achievements of the year page.

Health and wellbeing

The health of Merri-bek residents is consistent with the rest of Victoria. But physical and mental health are not the same for everyone. Income, education, employment and social support contribute to health inequalities.

As many as 20,000 people in Merri-bek live with a broad range of disabilities. One in 4 adults live with anxiety or depression. People have reported higher rates of anxiety and depression since the start of the pandemic.

We want to help improve our community’s health. We recognise that health is not only shaped by individual circumstances. It is also shaped by wider social, environmental and economic factors.

Our new council plan includes our public health and wellbeing plan. This is the first time we have done this.

Climate emergency 

Climate change is a dangerous threat to life. We are already experiencing hotter summer days, more frequent floods and droughts. Climate change is a risk to our health and wellbeing, and the economy, not just the environment.

Moreland is proud to be a leader in taking action against, and responding to, climate change. Our Zero Carbon Merri-bek 2040 Framework sets out how we will achieve this.

It is up to all of us to work together to be part of the solution to climate change. This includes demanding governments put in place policies to enable Australia to move to a zero-carbon future.

Moreland is particularly susceptible to the hotter days climate change will bring. This is because of the number of solid surfaces in places like our shopping strips.

Plus, there has been a decrease in trees on private land. This is largely due to a higher density of housing in inner-city suburbs.

We are working to change this in many ways:

  • We are encouraging people to plant trees on private land.
  • We are creating new parks with our A Park Close to Home project.
  • We adopted the Merri-bek Nature Plan and the Integrated Water Management Strategy 2040.


A new 4-stream waste and recycling system will be rolled out by all Victorian councils. This change is required by the State Government. This is to:

  • improve the quality of recyclable material collected at the kerbside
  • reduce waste being sent to landfill.

Councils have until 2027 to introduce the new glass service. They have until 2030 to introduce a food and garden organics (FOGO) service.

We have been consulting with the community about changing our service. This includes making the FOGO and glass collection available to all households. We are working towards implementing the recycling service changes in 2022-23.

New local government act

The Local Government Act 2020 (the ‘Act’) came into operation in March 2020 and affects many areas of our work.  

You can read more about the impact of the new Act in the Our governance section of this report.

Financial challenges

The State Government’s rate cap has continued to put financial pressure on our budget. Our total revenue from rates was capped at a 2% increase for 2020-21.

The rate cap poses financial challenges as costs often increase at a higher rate than the cap. But we are committed to delivering services within these constraints.

Get more detail

You can find out more about the challenges facing Merri-bek and about our population and how we live. We also have full references for the figures used on this page.

You can download our Challenges and the future (PDF 181Kb)about the challenges facing Merri-bek.


households who rent in Merri-bek



households who rent greater Melbourne average


tree and shrub cover in Merri-bek



tree and shrub cover in Darebin

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