and the future

Here we talk about Merri-bek, 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 almost a third (32%). It is now estimated at 185,767 people.  

This increase is due to several things. One factor is international migration. Today over 1 in 3 residents in Merri-bek were born overseas, in more than 100 countries around the world. 

Other factors include increased life expectancy and a growth in births. People of all ages live in Merri-bek. But the average age is 34, slightly lower than the rest of Melbourne. 

Our forecasts suggest our population will grow by another 23% by 2036. It will increase to 228,425. That’s an extra 42,658 future residents.  

We are planning for the services needed by more residents and the greater pressure on infrastructure. 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. 

Note: population forecasts are from before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Open space

We have one of the lowest rates of open space per person (40 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 close nearby. 

Climate emergency 

Climate change is a dangerous threat to life. It is a risk to our health and wellbeing, and the economy, as well as 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 have policies that give Australia 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 counter this through our Urban Forest Strategy 2017-2027. We are encouraging people to plant trees on private land. 

COVID-19 and other financial impacts 

We have outlined the impact of COVID-19 on our servicesThe pandemic will have a long-term impact on our financial position too. This because of the loss of revenue and the likelihood the economy will be in recession. As a provider of front-line community support, we seek to respond to those in need. This will be challenging to fund.  

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

The rate cap poses financial challenges as costs often increase at a higher rate than the cap. But we are committed to delivering council services within these constraints. We will work to meet this challenge through responsible financial management. 


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 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 service.  

We are already rolling out our opt-in food and garden organics collection service. A new separate glass service for all households will be in place by early 2022. 

No recyclable material collected from the kerbside is going to landfill.   

New local government act 

The Local Government Act 2020 (the ‘Act’) is the most ambitious and comprehensive reform of local government in Victoria for 30 years.  

The new Act touches on many different areas of our work. You can read more about the impact of the new Act in the section about our governance.

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 to this page. Download the full about Merri-bek PDF


of people rent their homes, more than the Melbourne average



of people will live alone by 2036


rate of open space per person



tree canopy cover compared to 17% in Darebin

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